Sad news today as The Guardian reports British actor Kenny Baker has passed away at the age of 81 following a long illness. Baker is most widely known as the actor behind the fan favorite Star Wars character, R2-D2.
Standing at just 3’8″ Baker first portrayed the robot character in the very first Star Wars movie back in 1977. He later resumed the role in the subsequent sequels, (The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi) as well as the three prequel films. He also appeared in other fan favorite films: Time Bandits, Flash Gordon and The Elephant Man.
Baker had been ill for some time and his death was not unexpected, according to his niece, Abigail Shield. She told The Guardian:
“It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless. He had a very long and fulfilled life. He brought lots of happiness to people and we’ll be celebrating the fact that he was well loved throughout the world. We’re all very proud of what he achieved in his lifetime.”
“He had problems with his lungs and was often in a wheelchair. He was very poorly for a long time. He was asked to go out to LA for the new Star Wars premiere, but he was told he was too ill to travel. Luckily he did manage to meet George Lucas again when he came to Manchester.”
Baker is survived by two sons and seven grandchildren. His wife Eileen died of epilepsy in 1993.