On-screen character Kenny Baker, 81, best referred to for his part as the droid R2-D2 in Star Wars films, has passed on.
His niece, Abigail Shield, said he was discovered dead by a nephew on Saturday at his home in northwest England after a long disease.
Baker premiered as smart and smart-alecky R2-D2 in the orginial Star Wars movie, in 1977. He proceeded with the part in the three original Star Wars films and the three prequels.
The bio on Baker’s website says the 3’8″ actor started performing at 16 with Burton Lester’s Midgets before joining Billy Smart’s Circus as a clown. He was touring with actor Jack Purvis when the Star Wars roles came along; Purvis plays a Jawa in the original film.
Shield told The Guardian: “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.
Baker’s other films include “Elephant Man,” “Time Bandits” and “Flash Gordon.”
He and his wife, who kicked the bucket in 1993, had two children.
Very sad news: Kenny Baker, the actor who brought R2-D2 to life has passed away pic.twitter.com/sUsSqXNe2B
— hmv (@hmvtweets) August 13, 2016
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 13, 2016