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'Star Wars' Actor Kenny Baker Dies at 81, Hollywood Mourns the Man Who Brought R2-D2 to Life

by Jennifer Drysdale 1:04 PM PDT, August 13, 2016
Playing 'Star Wars' Actor Kenny Baker Dies at 81, Hollywood Mourns the Man Who Brought R2-D2 to Life

Kenny Baker, the actor who played R2-D2 in Star Wars has died, CBS NEWS confirms.

The 3' 8" actor shot to fame when he first played the beloved Star Wars character in 1977, and reprised his role for 1980's The Empire Strikes Back and 1983's Return of the Jedi, as well as the three prequel films from 1999 to 2005. Baker also served as consultant on 2015's The Force Awakens.

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Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd

The actor, who also starred in films such as The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon, died on Saturday in his home in Preston, north west England, after suffering through years of breathing problems.

Baker's nephew and caregiver, Drew Myerscough, told Sky News that the love from Star Wars fans around the globe "kept him going, without any doubt."

"He was amazed that, even after 30-odd years, the fans still basically adored him," he said.

Baker was also adored by George Lucas, who released a heartfelt statement on the actor's death. 

"Kenny Baker was a real gentleman as well as an incredible trooper who always worked hard under difficult circumstances," he said. "A talented vaudevillian who could always make everybody laugh, Kenny was truly the heart and soul of R2-D2 and will be missed by all his fans and everyone who knew him."  

Ewan McGregor, who starred with Baker in the Star Wars prequels, took to Twitter to share his condolences.

"So sorry to hear about this. It was lovely working with Kenny," he wrote.

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"Goodbye #KennyBaker A lifelong loyal friend-I loved his optimism & determination," Mark Hamill tweeted shortly after. "He WAS the droid I was looking for!"

The rest of Hollywood soon followed with their own condolences.

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