The lovable Kenny Baker, the British actor who help bring R2-D2 to fame in Star Wars movies, has died at his home in Preston, England, he was 81.
In a statement by his agent, Johnny Mans, “Kenny Baker has sadly passed away and was found on Saturday morning by his nephew Drew, who was also his carer in the latter part of his life.”
Born in Birmingham, England on August 24th, 1934, he was only 11 days away from celebrating his 82nd birthday.
At 3-feet, 8-inches tall, the beloved performer was admired by fans over the years.
Mark Hamill tweeted a heartfelt response by saying; “Goodbye #KennyBaker A lifelong loyal friend – I loved his optimism & determination. He WAS the droid I was looking for!” – in reference to the famous line from the first Star Wars film.
Baker never lost step with performing, starting at the age of 16 he performed in “Burton Lester’s Midgets.”
Kenny later worked as a DJ and a circus clown, and also as half of a comedy-musical duo called the ‘Mini-Tones’ with Jack Purvis, who also appeared in the several Star Wars movies.
Baker’s claim to fame came when he was cast as the actor inside R2-D2’s robot costume in the 1977 movie “Star Wars.”
He told AFP years ago – [I just] “worked the levers.”
Baker originally turned down the part for R2-D2 – he told George Lucas “I don’t want to be stuck in a robot, what for, for goodness sake?” Later, Baker agreed to “Help out” Lucas in his quest to find someone to fit inside the drum shaped android.
His RD-D2 character became an instant hit with audiences around the globe – Baker returned for “The Empire Strikes Back, and “Return of the Jedi” as well as three prequels released from 1999 to 2005.
Baker appeared in many other films throughout his career including “The Elephant Man, “Time Bandits,” “Flash Gordon”, “Willow” and “Labyrinth.”
20th Century Fox posted a memorial photograph of Baker’s character with C3PO, saying “Rest in peace, Kenny Baker, the heart and soul of RD-D2.”
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