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2016 seems to be absolutely full of tragic losses in both the Hollywood community and beyond. We've lost legends both young and old this year, and the latest of these passed celebrities has touched entire generations of moviegoers.
It's with great displeasure that I must report that Star Wars actor Kenny Baker has died at the age of 83. While perhaps not a household name, literally every Star Wars fan has been a fan of the late actor's work, as he played one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars mythos. Namely, he controlled everyone's favorite droid, R2-D2 in both the original trilogy and the prequels.
This tragic news comes to us from The Guardian, which was able to have a conversation with Kenny Baker's niece Abigail Shield. Shield revealed that Kenny Baker had actually been sick for quite some time. His health had been declining, so that he was unable to attend the premiere for Star Wars: The Force Awakens back in December. Of her Uncle's recent health problems, Shield said the following:
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.
While moviegoers have felt Kenny Baker's influence through his beloved performances in Star Wars, as well as The Goonies and Flash Gordon, he has also surely affected little people everywhere as well. Baker was born in 1934 in Birmingham, UK. At that point, the life expectancy for those with dwarfism was significantly low, due to the still developing medical plans and research. According to Abigail Shield, he was originally only predicted to live a few short years when he was a child. Of course, he would end up living quite the long life by any standard, and accruing a fair amount of fame and fortune due to his involvement in a galaxy far, far away.
Kenny Baker's unfortunate death marks one of the first times that an original Star Wars actor has passed away. The notable exception to this was Peter Cushing, who played the terrifying Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: A New Hope. Cushing died back in 1994, after living to 81 years old. Cushing's death has actually been the subject of some talk recently, as fans wondered if Grand Moff Tarkin would be appearing in the Star Wars spinoff Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Additionally, the great Christopher Lee passed away last year. While not an original cast member, Lee's performance as Count Dooku was one of the highlights from the prequel trilogy, which he and Kenny Baker were able to work on together.
Our thoughts are with Kenny Baker's family at this time.