The Force was strong with Bob Anderson, even if you didn't realize it. The World War II veteran and Olympic swordsman who acted as Darth Vader's stand-in during the lightsaber fights in 'The Empire Strikes Back' and 'Return of the Jedi' died on Sunday in an English hospital, the British Academy of Fencing said. He was 89.
Anderson, who was a British Olympian in 1952 and represented his home country at the world championships in 1950 and 1953, was initially never credited with his contributions to 'Star Wars.' It wasn't until Mark Hamill, who fought against Anderson's Vader as Luke Skywalker in 'Empire' and 'Jedi,' mentioned the Englishman during an interview that his impact on the films was known.

"Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader's fighting," Hamill told Starlog magazine in 1983. "It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told [director] George [Lucas] I didn't think it was fair any more. Bob worked so bloody hard that he deserves some recognition. It's ridiculous to preserve the myth that it's all done by one man."

Vader was played onscreen by actor David Prowse; his iconic voice was done by James Earl Jones.

Anderson also worked on the 1952 film 'The Master of Ballantrae,' where he coached Errol Flynn, as well as 'The Princess Bride,' the 'Lord of Rings' trilogy, and a spate of James Bond films, including 'Die Another Day.'

[AP via ESPN]

[Photo: Everett]

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