Kenny Baker, ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 actor, dies

(CNN)Kenny Baker, the British actor who gave life to the droid R2-D2 in the “Star Wars” films, has died at the age of 81, according to his niece, Abigail Shield.

Baker was being looked after by Shield’s brother, who found him Saturday morning. Shield said Baker was ill for years with a lung condition.


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She also said her uncle — who was 3 feet, 8 inches tall — did not expect to “live past his teenage years because he was a ‘little person,’ so it is pretty amazing he lived this long.”
Baker died in his sleep Saturday morning, according to his nephew and caregiver Andrew Myerscough.
That was Baker’s wish — to go peacefully, his nephew said. “I couldn’t ask for more.”
Up until his final moments, Baker was in good spirits and was watching the Olympics on television, Myerscough said.



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“The thing weighed about 80 pounds,” he said. “I weighed 70 pounds.”

‘Overcome my height difficulties’

Baker also appeared in a number of other films in the 1980s, including “The Elephant Man,” “Time Bandits” and “Flash Gordon.”
In 1978, Baker immortalized R2-D2 with cement footprints of the droid outside Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
Born in Birmingham, England, on August 24, 1934, Baker was 16 when he started performing with Burton Lester’s Midgets, according to his website.
Baker also was a nightclub performer with the late British actor Jack Purvis, who appeared in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,” and “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi.”
Baker credited The Shaftesbury Society, a London Christian group that cares for children with disabilities, with helping him “overcome my height difficulties,” according to his site.
He was married to actress Eileen Baker, who died in 1993. They had two children.

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