R2D2 actor Kenny Baker dies, aged 81

Kenny Baker takes a break in his R2D2 costume

Tributes have been pouring in for the actor who played R2D2 in the Star Wars films, who died at the age of 81.

Kenny Baker, who was 3ft 8in, found fame in 1977 playing the robot in the first Star Wars film, A New Hope, and reprised the role in subsequent movies in the hit franchise.

He also appeared in Flash Gordon, Time Bandits, and Mona Lisa.

Baker’s agent Johnny Mans said: “He will be sadly missed.”

He said Baker, who died on Saturday, had been ill for a couple of years, adding that he had been cared for by his nephew.

Mr Mans said he knew Baker since the 1960s when they were both club entertainers.

“He was part of a double act called the Mini-Tones, his partner being Jack Purvis, who sadly died after an accident with his car.

“We worked together in summer shows and charity events before I went on to become his agent, and his then wife Eileen and Kenny also became great friends with my own family, with Kenny visiting my home on numerous occasions.

“Kenny also went on as a solo artiste and then eventually moved into films,” he said.

Mr Mans said he was with Baker just over a year ago at a charity event at Buckingham Palace where they met the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

“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 was a one-off. There will never be another Kenny Baker,” he said.

20th Century Fox posted a photograph of C3PO standing next to Baker’s Star Wars character, and wrote: “Rest in peace, Kenny Baker, the heart and soul of R2D2.”

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars film trilogy, paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “Goodbye #KennyBaker A lifelong loyal friend-I loved his optimism & determination He WAS the droid I was looking for!”

Baker played R2D2 in six Star Wars films, and acted as a consultant on last year’s The Force Awakens.

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