Another one of my favorite cinematic icons has gone the way of analog special effects. British actor Kenny Baker, the incredibly resilient and talented man who gave life to R2-D2 in the Star Wars films, has died. Que the sad R2 beep.
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Depending on which of the main media outlets you trust, Baker was either 83 or 81. Either way, he was ancient. Baker was only 3’8″. Because Baker had dwarfism, he wasn’t expected to live nearly this long.
Baker stared in numerous films, both in person and in intricate costumes (like R2-D2).
He was even an Ewok. How many people got to play more than one character in the Star Wars films?
But it was the sweltering heat he endured in the costume for A New Hope that puts him in the pantheon of great character actors. It was hot in Tunisia, and there are rumors that the crew would sometimes forget that Baker was suited up, and leave him for long periods of time in the R2 costume.
“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.”
The picture of Baker above is from Time Bandits.
Baker also made an odd appearance in Flash Gordon. That’s the best pic of it I can find.
And he was in Willow, a forgotten classic.
Though it is hard to see, he’s also in this image–from a movie called Wombling Free.
IMDB has Baker listed in some 30 films, mostly in the sci-fi or fantasy genre. He was also credited with a role something called “Boobs in the Wood”–and it isn’t the 1949 Looney Toons cartoon, either. It is described as an “adult pantomime show.” Whatever that means.
All I know is that if Kenny Baker stars in it….