Many sources are reporting that British actor Kenny Baker, best known for his role as the lovable droid R2-D2 in the Star Wars films, has died at age 83 (UPDATE: Several sources are reporting that Kenny Baker was 81 years old at his time of passing). Earlier this week, reports of Baker’s death spread on the internet but, the news was deemed a hoax. Today, however, The Guardian was the first to report confirmation of the news from Baker’s niece that his death comes after a long battle with illness.
The Guardian also included a statement from the actor’s niece, Abigail Shield, in which she said:
“It was expected, but it’s sad nonetheless. He had a very long and fulfilled life. 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… 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. He did extremely well in his life. He was very ill for the last few years so we had been expecting it. He had been looked after by one of his nephews, who found him on Saturday morning.”
Shield explained that Baker had been having problem with his lungs and was often wheelchair bound. He was invited to attend the LA Premiere of the new Star Wars film but was too ill to travel.
Lucasfilm has not yet commented on the passing of Kenny Baker but, Star Wars fans from all over the world are taking to social media to pay tribute: