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Due to a long-time illness, Kevin Baker, the man who played the role of R2-D2 since 1977 until 2005, has passed away at the age of 81. At only 3’8″, the actor jumped to fame by playing the role of the Star Wars robot.
His fame on Star Wars films also got him to play different roles in films such as Flash Gordon and The Elephant Man during the 1980s.
Baker’s niece, Abigail Shield, told The Guardian: “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.”
According to Ian Baker, Kevin’s dad, he was told his son ” probably wouldn’t survive through puberty, being a little person in those times, they didn’t have a very good life expectancy.”
Shield also told The Guardian that Kevin Baker “had problems with his lungs and was often in a wheelchair.”
His agent, Johnny Mans, said “Kenny was truly a great friend, one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet, and a fabulous and talented performer.”
Ewan McGregor and Mark Hamill shared their feelings about the passing of Kevin Baker on Twitter:
So sorry to hear about this. It was lovely working with Kenny. Kenny Baker, Star Wars R2-D2 actor, dies aged 81 https://t.co/9HW6f3MWZl
— Ewan McGregor (@mcgregor_ewan) August 13, 2016
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) August 13, 2016
[Source]: The Guardian: Kenny Baker, actor behind R2-D2, dies.