August 13, 2016 – The Star Wars universe has just grown a bit dimmer with the announcement today of the passing of Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 in the first six Star Wars movies.
The 81-year-old English actor, who stood 3ft 8in tall, had been suffering a long illness, was wheelchair bound, and had lung/breathing problems. Despite all this, he managed to make a final fan appearance over three days at Star Wars Celebration in London, 15-17 July 2016.
Baker endured extreme temperatures inside the R2 prop. While he did not reprise his role in The Force Awakens, he was listed in the credits as the “R2-D2 Consultant”.
He also played Paploo, the Ewok who steals a speeder bike in Return of the Jedi (1983).
Baker appeared in other well-received movies in the 1980’s, including The Goonies, The Elephant Man, Time Bandits, Willow and Flash Gordon.
According to his niece, Abigail Shield, Baker had wanted to attend the premiere of The Force Awakens in Los Angeles last December. But he was advised he was too ill to travel the long journey. However, he did manage to see George Lucas again in Manchester, UK, and he appeared at a European red carpet for The Force Awakens.