Kenny Baker Dead: Star Wars’ R2-D2 Dies at 81

Kenny Baker
Kenny Baker appears with R2-D2 at the London Film and Comic Convention on July 17, 2010. Rory Gilder/REX/Shutterstock

A true movie icon. Kenny Baker, the actor who portrayed the iconic R2-D2 in the Star Wars films, died on Saturday, August 13. He was 81.

The 3-foot-8 British star, who rose to fame in 1977, was battling a long illness in his lungs, his niece Abigail Shield told The Guardian on Saturday.

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“It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless,” she told the newspaper. “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.”

Kenny Baker
Kenny Baker as R2-D2 (right), with Anthony Daniels as C-3PO. Lucasfilm

Baker was best known for his role as the legendary science fiction robot, who he played in Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones and Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.

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“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.”

Shield continued, “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.”

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Baker also appeared in The Elephant Man, Flash Gordon and Time Bandits. He was married to actress Eileen Baker from 1970 until her death from epilepsy in 1993.

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