Kenny Baker, who starred in the first six Star Wars films as the droid R2-D2, recently died after battling a long illness. The British actor rose to fame after his appearance as the robot in the first Star Wars film in 1977.
Following the debut, he continued to portray the character in following movies such as The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, along with the 1999 to 2005 Star Wars prequels. Outside of his work with Star Wars, he also appeared in films such as The Elephant Man (1980), Time Bandits (1981), and Flash Gordon (1980).
Baker’s niece Abigail Shield told The Guardian that he “had a very long and fulfilled life,” and that he brought “lots of happiness to people.” Baker was just 3-foot-8 and doctors told him he wouldn’t live past puberty. He surpassed these obstacles, and first began working in show business through theater and the circus. His rise to fame, however, began with Star Wars. Because of his height, he was small enough to fit inside the droid, which director George Lucas believed would make him perfect for the role.
Baker had been looked after by his nephew, as he suffered with lung problems and was often confined to a wheelchair. Shield told The Guardian that his death was “expected, but it’s sad nonetheless.”
Game Informer extends its condolences to Baker’s family and friends.
[Source: The Guardian, Photo Courtesy of Rory Gilder/Rex Shutterstock via The Guardian]