By Tom Degun

bob anderson_03-01-12January 3 - British Olympic fencer Bob Anderson (pictured), who played legendary Star Wars villain Darth Vader during the fight scenes in two of the original films, has died at the age of 89.

Anderson fought light sabre battles as Darth Vader in both The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983.

During the non-fight scenes; the evil character was voiced by James Earl Jones and played by 6ft 6in former weightlifter David Prowse.

In both Star Wars films, Darth Vader fights epic light sabre battles with Luke Skywalker who was played by Mark Hamill.

The fact that Anderson played Darth Vader during the fight scenes was a secret until Hamill revealed he was behind the fight scenes in a 1983 interview with Starlog magazine.

"It was always supposed to be a secret, but I finally told George Lucas – the director – I didn't think it was fair anymore," said Hamill in the interview.

"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."

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Prowse was originally scheduled to the fight scenes but Anderson's former assistant Leon Hill revealed that the former weightlifter was unable to perform the fight scenes to the required standard so Anderson stepped in despite being several inches shorter.

"David Prowse wasn't very good with a sword and Bob couldn't get him to do the moves," said Hill.

"Fortunately Bob could just don the costume and do it himself."

Anderson served in the Royal Marines during World War Two and represented the UK in fencing at the Helsinki 1952 Olympics as well as the World Championships 1950 and 1953.

His first foray into the film world was in the 1952 swashbuckler The Master of Ballantrae, starring Errol Flynn.

He was soon in demand and went on to work on films including From Russia With Love, Die Another Day, The Princess Bride, The Legend of Zorro and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Fencing Academy President Philip Bruce paid tribute as he said: "He was truly one of our greatest fencing masters and a world-class film fight director and choreographer and both the fencing community and film world will miss him."

Anderson is survived by his wife Pearl and three children.

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