Bob Anderson, the Olympic fencing coach who doubled as Darth Vader during lightsaber duels in “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi,” died on New Year’s Day. He was 89.
Anderson, who competed in the 1952 Olympic Games as part of the British fencing team and went on to coach future fencing teams, began his side career as a sword-fight trainer to the big screen’s swashbucklers after coaching Errol Flynn in “The Master of Ballantrae.” His Hollywood handiwork spans five decades and multiple genres, with credits including “Star Wars,” “The Mask of Zorro,” “Highlander,” “The Phantom,” “Pirates of the Caribbean,” several James Bond films and many more.
“The sword is the ultimate weapon,” he said in a 1995 Los Angeles Times interview. “It’s not so threatening shooting at someone at 20 or 30 paces away or while hiding behind things.
“When you get into a sword fight, you’re standing toe-to-toe with someone who’s trying to kill you and you’re looking him in the eye — now that’s thrilling.”