Lancashire’s own Star Wars legend Kenny Baker has died after a long illness.
It is understood the 3ft 8in tall actor, who played the robot character R2-D2 in six of the sc-fi films, was found dead at his home in Preston early today by a relative. He was 81.
His niece Abigail Shield 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 proud of what he achieved in his lifetime.”
Birmingham-born Kenny appeared in numerous other films including Flash Gordon, Time Bandits, Amadeus, The Elephant Man and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.
He met his wife Eileen after she saw him on Michael Parkinson’s chat show and wrote in saying she was a little person too and would like to meet him.
Even though they both had dwarfism, it was not inherited by their two children. Eileen died in 1993.
Neice Abigail said: “He was very ill for the last few years, so we had been expecting it. He had problems with his lungs and was often in a wheelchair.
“He was very poorly for a long time and had been looked after by one of his nephews who found him on Saturday morning.
“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.”