Kenny Baker, the British actor who played R2-D2 in six Star Wars films, has died at the age of 81.
The Manchester-based actor, who was 3ft 8in tall, had been unwell for some time. “It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless,” his niece Abigail Shieldtold The Guardian.
“He had a very long and fulfilled life,” she added. “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.”
Though he was best known for his iconic Star Wars role, Baker also appeared in films including The Elephant Man, Willow, Flash Gordon, Amadeus, 24 Hour Party People and Labyrinth. On TV, he guested on shows including Casualty and The Chronicles Of Narnia.
“He had problems with his lungs and was often in a wheelchair,” his niece said today (August 13) when breaking news of Baker’s passing. “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.”
In a recent interview on his website, Baker recalled that he actually turned down the role of R2-D2 when it was first offered to him, telling George Lucas: “I don’t want to be stuck in a robot, what for, for goodness’ sake?”
Baker was married to wife Eileen from 1970 until her death in 1993. He is survived by their two children.