Bob Anderson, the man who played Darth Vader during the legendary Star Wars lightsaber duels from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, died early on New Year's Day at the age of 89, according to USA Today. Anderson made a living as a fencing coach after serving in WWII, and he even represented Britain at the 1952 Olympics in fencing, but before long he found himself as one of the unsung heroes of the movie industry. 

The first film he worked on was 1952's The Master of Ballantrae, where he staged fight scenes for the iconic onscreen swordmaster, Errol Flynn. But his most high-profile job came in 1980 when he served as David Prowse's fight double as Darth Vader in The Empire Strikes Back after Prowse couldn't keep up with the fight moves.

It was decided that Anderson, who was the movie's fight director at the time, should don the suit and play Vader himself when it came time to ignite his crimson saber. Unfortunately, Anderson's efforts went unrecognized until Mark Hamill finally revealed the fact that Vader had a fight double during a 1983 interview. Anderson was one-third of what made Vader a success, with James Earl Jones providing the voice and Prowse performing the non-action movements.

After the Star Wars trilogy ended, Anderson went on to choreograph fights for blockbusters like Die Another Day, The Mask of Zorro, and even the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Anderson is survived by his wife, Pearl, and three children.

[via USA Today]