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Saturday, 13 August 2016

GOODBYE, KENNY BAKER...

You'll believe a droid can bleep, bloop. Kenny Baker with his iconic STAR WARS alter-ego: Artoo Detoo.

Though the legacy of the original STAR WARS is shining brighter than ever, one of its most memorable candles has sadly flickered out today, as the news comes to AFICIONADO that the man who indelibly brought to life, character, quirky humour, and even pathos, to the original R2-D2 shell of the Classic Trilogy, and for the opening films of the later Prequels, Kenny Baker, has passed on into the great unknown ahead of us, at the age of 83.

Kenny Baker, the Actor Who Brought R2-D2 to Life, Passes Away | StarWars.com
Kenny Baker, Star Wars R2-D2 actor, dies age 83
Kenny Baker, Star Wars R2-D2 actor, dies aged 81 - BBC News
Kenny Baker who portrayed Star Wars' R2-D2 is dead at 81 | Daily Mail Online
Kenny Baker, actor behind R2-D2, dies | Film | The Guardian
Kenny Baker Dead: ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 Actor, Dies 83 | Variety
Kenny Baker dead: Star Wars' R2-D2 actor dies at 83 | EW.com
Mark Hamill and others pay tribute: Epicstream

Early days with George Lucas and John Barry working out the R2 shell and its mechanics.
Though they were never close friends off camera, there was no denying that Anthony Daniels and Kenny Baker made on screen magic together as droid buddies Threepio and Artoo across two sagas.
At camera level watching filming at Elstree in 1976.
Squaring up to the legendary Mohamed Ali, no less!

Though he'd been prior involved in showbusiness to varying degrees, Baker, would be a rising star in the entertainment world by 1975, via the diminutive Mini Tones television and cabaret double act he shared with his friend and career partner in the also late, great Jack Purvis, and wasn't originally all that keen on playing a robot, nor operating its often very uncomfortable (at one point almost terminal-bringing) internal mechanics, for some strange, hard to fathom at the time science fiction film with overseas location lensing in Tunisia and at London's Elstree Studios. But the coercion of Production Designer John Barry and his team, the presence of Sir Alec Guinness as a key cast member, and the commitment of having Purvis doing additional character role work in the film, soon had him jumping aboard for an endeavour that nobody really had any high hopes about it being a huge success. Two years later and beyond, it was an altogether different story- Baker going on to enjoy a terrific, life-altering, world encapsulating career, carrying on his STAR WARS work and publicity whilst appearing in a diverse array of further entertainment projects, including TV comedy such as THE GOODIES and THE DAVE ALLEN SHOW, as well as acclaimed films like Terry Gilliam's zany and beloved family adventure TIME BANDITS, the colourful and exciting Sam Jones starring FLASH GORDON (which was filmed shortly after THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK at Elstree Studios), and cult favourite LABYRINTH.

On murky ground on the Dagobah set in 1979.
Always by Luke Skywalker's side in his X-wing.
A vital part of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK publicity tour.
On location as Paploo the Ewok for RETURN OF THE JEDI.
Back in the shell, and back in the Tunisian heat, for EPISODE I.

Always a friendly face at worldwide conventions, full of humour, anecdotes, cheeky charm, and loving the nightlife and a good seat at the bar, Kenny was much loved and respected by fans and filmmakers alike, and will be greatly missed by everyone in the STAR WARS community, of which he was such an important family member.

Official site: Kenny Baker | Actor Kenny Baker R2-D2

R2 D2 Actor 'Pleased' At News Of New Star Wars Films - YouTube
Kenny Baker interview - YouTube
R2-D2 builders wish Kenny Baker a happy birthday - YouTube

Always the fun centre of attention in Tunisia in 1976.
Making a visit to the EPISODE VII set, as an advisor, and for a photo shoot with R2.

R.I.P., Kenny, and thank you for the incredible mark you've made on film and genres history...

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