Kenny Baker Dies; Actor Behind R2-D2 was 81

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Kenny Baker, a British actor you may not recognize but whose work you know VERY well, died on Saturday after battling a lengthy illness.

He was 81 years old.

Standing at just 3 feet and 8 inches tall, Baker starred in six Star Wars films as the iconic character of R2-D2.

The actor’s niece, Abigail Shield, confirmed this sad news to The Guardian, paying tribute to her relative as follows:

“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.”

Baker rose to fame in 1977 when he first appeared on screen as this beloved robot.

He then returned for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as the three Star Wars prequels from 1999 to 2005.

r2d2

Baker also has roles in a number of other popular films in the 1980s, including The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.

“When he was a child, he was told that he probably wouldn’t survive through puberty. Being a little person in those times, they didn’t have a very good life expectancy,” Shield told The Guardian on Saturday.

“He did extremely well in his life. He was very ill for the last few years, so we had been expecting it.

“He had been looked after by one of his nephews, who found him on Saturday morning.”

She concluded:

“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 L.A. 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.”

wars, star

This news hits just as the first Rogue One trailer went viral toward the end of last week.

Take a look at it below:

We can’t thank Baker enough for his contributions to the most beloved film franchise in history.

We hope he is resting in peace.

The same, of course, goes for all of the celebrities who have passed away this year.

Here is a rundown of the most notable deaths:

The Hollywood Gossip