Kenny Baker, the English actor that played R2-D2 in the Star Wars films, passed away Saturday after a long illness. He was 81 years old.
Baker’s niece, Abigail Shield, confirmed his passing in an interview with 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.”
Baker appeared in many well-known films over the course of his 65 year career, including roles in Time Bandits, The Goonies, Labyrinth, Flash Gordon and more. The 3-foot-8-inch actor was beloved among his peers, and was regularly seen on the Star Wars convention circuit until an asthmatic condition affected his health in his early seventies.
An outpouring of support and memorials appeared on social media websites soon after Baker’s death was confirmed.
So long, Kenny Baker, and thanks. pic.twitter.com/5Ydp7SvoVy— Patch (@PatrickZircher) August 13, 2016
Sorry to hear of the passing of Kenny Baker.R2D2 to many,one half of "The Mini Tones" to me. pic.twitter.com/BRilcVDntW— William Regal (@RealKingRegal) August 13, 2016
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.
Update 4:15pm CT, Aug. 13: Star Wars creator George Lucas has issued a statement on Baker’s death, which is included in a full write-up about the actor on the Star Wars website.
George Lucas pays tribute to Kenny Baker as a "talented vaudevillian, "truly the heart and soul of R2-D2." pic.twitter.com/rcPBoSM2K3— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) August 13, 2016