Bob Anderson, Legendary 'Star Wars' Sword Master, Dies At Age 89

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They say "the pen is mightier than the sword," but that old adage doesn't account for lightsabers.

When it came to mastering any kind of blade, be it the 18th-century fencing of "Barry Lyndon" to the epic laser sword duels of a galaxy far, far away, Bob Anderson was the go-to guy to train, choreograph and occasionally work as stunt double. The Associated Press reports the 89-year-old movie legend died early New Year's Day at an English hospital.

For years, many people assumed it was six-foot-six bodybuilder David Prowse, the man inside Darth Vader's suit, fighting Luke Skywalker in "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi," but behind-the-scenes it was Anderson, pushing age 60, clashing over the fate of the universe.

"Bob Anderson was the man who actually did Vader's fighting," said Mark Hamill. "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."

Aside from that famous trilogy, Anderson represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games in 1952, coached Errol Flynn (whom he accidentally slashed) in "The Master of Ballantrae," and served as Sword Master on the sets of "Highlander," "The Princess Bride," "The Mask of Zorro," the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" entry and a whole slew of James Bond films.

In recent years, Anderson was best known for his work on Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, where he famously gave Viggo Mortensen, cast at the last-minute, a crash course in fencing and ultimately transformed Aragorn into one of the screen's great swordsmen.

In the documentary "Reclaiming the Blade" Anderson states, "I never took up the sword. I think the sword took me up."

Anderson is survived by his wife Pearl and three children.