Sword Master Bob Anderson, 1922-2012
The New York Times has reported the death of Bob Anderson, 89, at his West Sussex home on January 1.
Bob Anderson was a foil, épée, and sabre champion while in the Royal Marines in the ’40s, and just before he went to the Olympics for Great Britain, he was asked to come on board the Errol Flynn film The Master of Ballantrae. (You see this in a lot of earlier movies: “We need a swordfight! Find one of those guys in white and offer him a sandwich if he’ll make our hero look good.”)
Anderson went on to work on the original Star Wars trilogy, The Princess Bride, The Three Musketeers, Highlander (movie and series), The Mask of Zorro, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Alatriste, among others. What a massive career. What cultural touchstones — personal ones for me, too, as I’m sure they are for anyone who makes their way to this blog.
You can see Bob Anderson talk about his work — and his exacting work ethic — on the LotR behind the scenes featurettes and in Daniel McNicoll’s documentary Reclaiming the Blade, which is available for streaming on Netflix. The Guardian has posted several clips of his films, but I’ll close with one that always puts my heart in my mouth, when Bob Anderson shoulders the black suit and picks up a lightsaber at the end of Return of the Jedi: