Kenny Baker, who most fans know from his role as R2-D2 in the Star Wars Original Trilogy and Prequel films, has passed away.
The actor was 81 and had been fighting an illness for quite some time. Baker's niece, Abigail Shield, spoke to The Guardian about Baker's health issues over the last few years.
“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.”
“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 stood at 3ft 8 inches tall, and while that stature was a contributing factor to getting the part, it was also the reason that many doctors felt he wouldn't make it through puberty, nonetheless to the age of 81.
“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.”
In addition to Star Wars, Baker also starred in films like Flash Gordon and Labyrinth and also reprised his R2-D2 role in The Star Wars Holiday Special and The Muppet Show.