Bob Anderson, who died on Sunday, aged 89, donned the intergalactic archvillain’s black helmet and fought light-sabre battles in the The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
He worked with actors from Errol Flynn to Antonio Banderas during five decades as a sword master, fight director and stunt performer. For Darth Vader, James Earl Jones provided the voice and Dave Prowse acted the part, but it was Anderson who stepped in for the key fight scenes.
“Prowse wasn’t very good with a sword,” said Anderson’s former assistant, Leon Hill. “Fortunately, Bob could just don the costume and do it himself.”
The scenes worked beautifully, although Anderson was several inches shorter than Prowse. Few knew of his role until Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, said in 1983 that “Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader’s fighting”.
Hampshire-born Anderson fenced for Britain in the 1952 Olympics.