Following a long illness, actor Kenny Baker has passed away at the age of 81 and, while this may not be news to the millions of Star Wars fans mourning the loss, Baker’s legacy is comprised of so much more than his acting credits. Kenny’s family talks about his lifelong struggle to overcome illness and birth defects, while the actors closest to him share their love and respect for Baker. Among those mourning the loss of Kenny Baker on a personal level are Star Wars creator George Lucas and co-star Mark Hamill.
Star Wars Creator George Lucas Mourns The Loss Of ‘A Real Gentleman’
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Perhaps one of the Hollywood A-listers to have known Kenny best of all was the Star Wars creator himself, who shared his thoughts on Baker upon hearing of the actor’s passing, reports BBC. Personally, Lucas describes Kenny as a gentleman, but his respect for the R2-D2 actor goes further than that, describing Baker as “an incredible trooper,” even under the most difficult conditions. George says the late actor was an entertainer through and through, always looking for ways to a get a laugh out of co-stars, even when the cameras weren’t rolling.
“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,” Mr. Lucas recalls.
Lucas wasn’t the only Star Wars personality to pay a tribute to Baker on his passing. Star Wars actor Mark Hamill also commented on the R2-D2 actor’s passing by sharing his thoughts with Twitter users.
“Goodbye #KennyBaker A lifelong loyal friend-I loved his optimism & determination He WAS the droid I was looking for!”
Anthony Daniels, who played C-3PO to Baker’s R2-D2, also remarked on the death of Kenny, saying that it was a sad loss and adding that the actor’s millions of fans will miss him.
Baker was adored by all who met him, a sentiment proven true in the words of Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie. Ms. Christie, who also plays Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will reprise the role in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VIII, says she was also touched by the experience of meeting Baker.
“Rest in peace Kenny Baker. It was a pleasure to meet you & thank you for all the joy you brought us.”
Kenny Baker’s Passing Wasn’t A Surprise, Says Niece
Mr. Baker, whose acting credits also include Labyrinth (1986), Sleeping Beauty (1987), and The Battersea Ripper(2006), suffered a long illness before passing away. Abigail Shield, Baker’s niece, told the Guardian that, although his passing wasn’t a surprise, the whole family is saddened by the loss, nonetheless. She adds that the Star Wars actor led a fulfilling life, beloved by millions of fans throughout the world, and that would be how the family will be celebrating his life.
There’s no doubt that Mr. Baker achieved much in his lifetime, made all the more impressive by the fact that doctors predicted a much earlier passing for Kenny.
“When he was a child, he was told that he probably wouldn’t survive through puberty, being a little person in those times, they didn’t have a very good life expectancy,” revealed Ms. Shield. “He did extremely well in his life.”
Of his recent illness, Abigail describes problems with Kenny’s lungs and being confined to a wheelchair, but she adds that his zest for life was still indomitable. As ill as he was, he wanted to make it to the theater for the premiere of the new Star Wars film. Although that wasn’t possible, Abigail says Kenny’s spirits were lifted, when he was able to meet his former Star Wars boss again, when George Lucas made a visit to Manchester.
[Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images]