Kenny Baker, the actor who played Artoo, has died at the age of 81. The 3 foot, 8 inch actor was the man inside the droid for the original and prequel trilogies. He also played Paploo the Ewok in Return of the Jedi, and appeared in Time Bandits and Flash Gordon
Baker has been ill for some time. “It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless. He had a very long and fulfilled life,” his niece, Abigail Shield, told the Guardian. “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.”
Peter Mayhew posted “a final farewell to my little friend with the giant heart” on Chewbacca.com on Monday.
“Goodbye #KennyBaker,” Mark Hamill tweeted. “A lifelong loyal friend-I loved his optimism & determination. He WAS the droid I was looking for!” Fellow actors Ewan McGregor and Warwick Davis also posted remembrances on Twitter.
George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy spoke about Baker on StarWars.com. Lucas calls him “a real gentleman” and “an incredible trooper,” while Kennedy says “There is no Star Wars without R2-D2, and Kenny defined who R2-D2 was and is. He will be greatly missed.”
The bushfires that raged in the Australian state of Victoria earlier this year killed more than 200 and left over 7000 homeless. The fires may be snuffed, but the victims are still hurting, and Star Wars fans have banded together to help them.
Though there are plenty of items up on Ebay now, including signed photographs from David Prowse, Kenny Baker, Jeremy Bulloch and Bonnie Piesse. But of particularly of interest to EU fans is a chance to get a namesake (tuckerized) character in the fifth Clone Wars novel by Karen Miller or a yet-unannouncedStar Wars book (!) from Sean Williams. And Kevin J. Anderson and Rebecca Moesta are offering an original manuscript from one of the Young Jedi Knights novels.
The actor was returning to England from Chicago when an “apparent asthma attack struck.” He was rushed to the hospital when the plane landed. His son told reporters that the attack was ‘nothing serious.’ He’s already awake and talking, so hopefully things will be okay!