Kenny Baker, the British actor who played R2-D2 in six Star Wars films, has died at the age of 83 after a long battle with an illness, The Guardianreports. The 3-foot-8-inch actor became famous in 1977 after his first portrayal of the beloved robot character in Star Wars: A New Hope.
Baker went on to play R2-D2 in The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 andReturn of the Jedi in 1983 in addition to the three Star Wars prequels that came out between 1999 and 2005. Baker is also known for his work in other popular movies from the 80’s like Time Bandits, Elephant Man, andLabyrinth.
Baker’s niece Abigail Shield spoke to The Guardian about Baker’s upbringing and the challenges he faced:
“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. 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.”
Shield spoke more about Baker’s sickness:
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.
Although the end of Baker’s life was riddled with sickness, Shield upheld that Baker lived a very “fulfilled” life and accomplished an incredible amount:
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
Fans, famous and otherwise, paid tribute to Baker upon learning of his death.
source: complex.com BY ETHAN JACOBS