Kenny Baker, Who Originated R2-D2 in 'Star Wars' , Has Died at 81

After battling a long unnamed illness, Kenny Baker has died


After battling a long unnamed illness, Kenny Baker has died, PEOPLE can confirm.

The actor, who originated the role of R2-D2 in George LucasStar Wars franchise, was just two weeks shy of his 82nd birthday when he passed away, his family confirmed to the BBC.

His agent Johnny Mans told the BBC that the actor had been ill for a couple of years, and had been cared for by his nephew. Mans also confirmed to PEOPLE that the actor had passed away.

“We were together just over a year ago at a GOWR charity get-together when we had the pleasure of visiting Buckingham Palace, and met the Queen and Prince Philip,” Mas said. “Kenny was truly a great friend, one of the nicest guys you could ever wish to meet and a fabulous and talented performer.

“My wife and family will miss him terribly, and I will never forget the laughs we shared over the years,” he continued. “He was a one-off. There will never be another Kenny Baker.”

Born in Birmingham, England, Baker lived in Preston. A father of two, his wife, Eileen, died in 1993. She was also an actress, co-starring with him in the 1997 film Wombling Free.

Actor Daniel Logan, who played Boba Fett in 2002’s Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, tweeted his condolences upon hearing the news.

“So sad to hear one of my dearest friends passed away,” he wrote. “Rest in peace Kenny Baker. Love you. Will miss you!”

At 3-feet, 8-inches, Logan began acting in 1950 at the age of 16, as as a circus clown. On his website, he recalls turning down the role of R2-D2 initially, telling Lucas “I don’t want to be stuck in a robot”

“I got into it and they put the lid on me like a boiled egg,” he joked.

He told PEOPLE about his Star Wars experience in 1997:

“They just pulled the top off and put me inside it – I’d just have to put all my energy into wobbling it along,” he said.

Baker last played the iconic character in 2005’s Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. In 1997, Baker told PEOPLE that if “R2-D2 was in the movie, I’ll be in the movie.”

In addition to his Star Wars role, he has also appeared in Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.

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