In Memoriam: Kenny Baker 1934-2016

It is with a very heavy heart that we say goodbye to actor Kenny Baker.  Kenny Baker was known primarily for playing R2-D2 in “Star Wars.”  Kenny Baker was one of the original cast members of George Lucas’ space opera, taking place in a galaxy far far away.  Baker, an English actor and musician was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire and was the son of Ethel, a pianist and dress maker and Harold Baker, artist, musician and draftsman.  Kenny stood 3ft. 8 inches tall, and after being an educated individual he was approached on the streets by a troupe of dwarves and midgets who invited him to join the circus.

It was during this time performing Vaudevillian stand up and comedy, when he met entertainer Jack Purvis and George Lucas.  George Lucas wanted Kenny to perform inside the lug of a droid named R2-D2, which to Kenny’s surprise wasn’t sure how it would play out.  There was no such thing as droids back in those days, but Kenny jumped at the chance to do something other than juggling and making a fool out of himself, although he did have a great sense of humor and his stand up comedy routines were worth a lot of yuks.  Baker appeared in all six “Star Wars” films from 1977 through “Revenge of the Sith” in 2005.  Kenny played an additional role apart from R2 in “Return of the Jedi.”  Along with fellow actor Warwick Davis, Baker played the Ewok Paploo, the little creature who steals the Imperial speeder bike.  “Not bad for a little fur ball.”

Of course on-screen chemistry is just pretend, as Baker and Anthony Daniels who played C-3PO never got along.  Baker always accused Daniels of being rude towards him and the two never spoke to each other unless they were acting or delivering lines on-screen.  However Daniels did pay tribute to Baker on Twitter saying, “Sad to hear of Kenny’s passing.  1 of the truly original cast, so famed for his iconic role as R2. He’ll always be remembered by so many fans.”

Along with his iconic role of R2, Baker also starred in films such as “Willow,” “The Elephant Man,” “Time Bandits,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth.  Because of Baker’s illness, he did not play R2 in “The Force Awakens” but he still received an acting credit for being a consultant.  Much before pop culture became invested in BB-8, there was always R2 and he will always be the funny little droid that we all know and love.  R2 will never be the same without Kenny Baker.  Baker died on August 13, 2016 just 11 days before his 82nd birthday.  “Star Wars” fans will hold their lightsabers high, in memoriam for the man inside the droid.

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