Famous for playing R2-D2 in Star Wars, the late great English actor Kenneth George “Kenny” Baker was born 24 August 1934. Baker, who stood 3 ft 8 in (112 cm) tall, was born and educated in Birmingham, West Midlands, and went to boarding school in Kent. His parents were of average height. He wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and be an engraver, but had not received sufficient education. He went to live with his stepmother in Hastings, Sussex and in 1951 was approached on the street by a lady who invited him to join a theatrical troupe of dwarves and midgets. This was his first taste of show business. Later, he joined a circus for a brief time, learned to ice-skate and appeared in many ice shows. He had formed a successful comedy act called the Minitones with entertainer Jack Purvis when George Lucas hired him to be the man inside R2-D2 in Star Wars in 1977.
Baker appears in all six Star Wars films and played an additional role in 1983’s Return of the Jedi as Paploo, the Ewok who steals an Imperial speeder bike. He was originally going to play Wicket, but he fell ill and that role was handed over to Warwick Davis. Kenny is featured on Justin Lee Collins’s “Bring Back Star Wars”. He also revealed that he didn’t get on with his co-star Anthony Daniels, whom He claimed had been rude to him on numerous occasions.
Baker’s other films include The Elephant Man, Time Bandits (also with Purvis) Willow (also with Jack Purvis) and Flash Gordon, Amadeus and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. On television, he appeared in the British medical drama Casualty. In the late 1990s, Baker launched a short stand up comedy career. Baker played harmonica with the James Coutts’ Scottish Dance Band at Hugh McCaig’s Silverstone Party in July 1997. In November 2009, his biography entitled From Tiny Acorns: The Kenny Baker Story was made available through his website and at conventions and book signings. It was written with Ken Mills. He reprised his role as R2-D2 in Star Wars Episode VII and He also had a part in the BBC production of “The Chronicles of Narnia”. He sadly died 13 August 2016 however his films remain popular.