It is Cult Faction’s sad duty to report that R2D2 himself, the legendary Kenny Baker has passed away at the age of 81 years old following a long illness.
Initially Baker wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and be an engraver, but in 1951 was approached on the street by a lady who invited him to join a theatrical troupe of dwarves and midgets. This was his first taste of show business. Later, he joined a circus for a brief time, learned to ice-skate and appeared in many ice shows. He had formed a successful comedy act called the Minitones with entertainer Jack Purvis when George Lucas hired him to be the man inside R2-D2 in Star Wars in 1976. The rest was history!
Outside of Star Wars, Baker appeared in a number of other cult films including The Goodies, Time Bandits, Flash Gordon, Willow, Wombling Free, The Elephant Man, Labyrinth, Mona Lisa, Amadeus, 24 Hour Party People, and the BBC production of The Chronicles of Narnia.
His niece, Abigail Shield, paid tribute to her uncle. She said: “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.”
She noted “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. 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.”