Kenny Baker, ‘Star Wars’ R2-D2 actor, dies

Updated 4:05 AM EDT, Sun August 14, 2016
British-born actor Kenny Baker, who played the robot R2-D2 in director George Lucas's epic film, 'Star Wars' (1977), smiling and leaning with his arm against a table. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Express Newspapers/Getty Images
British-born actor Kenny Baker, who played the robot R2-D2 in director George Lucas's epic film, 'Star Wars' (1977), smiling and leaning with his arm against a table. (Photo by Express Newspapers/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:50
Star Wars R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker dies
Now playing
01:52
Chadwick Boseman's widow gives tearful speech at tribute
In this Feb. 14, 2018 photo, actor Chadwick Boseman poses for a portrait in New York to promote his film, "Black Panther."  Boseman, who played Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, has died of cancer. His representative says Boseman died Friday, Aug. 28, 2020 in Los Angeles after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43.
PHOTO: Victoria Will/AP
In this Feb. 14, 2018 photo, actor Chadwick Boseman poses for a portrait in New York to promote his film, "Black Panther." Boseman, who played Black icons Jackie Robinson and James Brown before finding fame as the regal Black Panther in the Marvel cinematic universe, has died of cancer. His representative says Boseman died Friday, Aug. 28, 2020 in Los Angeles after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He was 43.
Now playing
02:17
A look back at Chadwick Boseman's legacy
title: Chadwick Boseman's Howard University 2018 Commencement Speech  duration: 00:34:41  site: Youtube  author: null  published: Mon May 14 2018 10:29:12 GMT-0400 (EDT)  intervention: yes  description: Howard University alumnus Chadwick Boseman provides words of inspiration to the Class of 2018 during Howard University's 150th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 12 in Washington, D.C.
PHOTO: Howard University/WHUT
title: Chadwick Boseman's Howard University 2018 Commencement Speech duration: 00:34:41 site: Youtube author: null published: Mon May 14 2018 10:29:12 GMT-0400 (EDT) intervention: yes description: Howard University alumnus Chadwick Boseman provides words of inspiration to the Class of 2018 during Howard University's 150th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 12 in Washington, D.C.
Now playing
01:19
Chadwick Boseman gives 'Wakanda' salute at Howard graduation (2018)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 16:  James Shaw Jr. accepts award from Actor Chadwick Boseman onstage at the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California.  (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
PHOTO: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc/FilmMagic
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 16: James Shaw Jr. accepts award from Actor Chadwick Boseman onstage at the 2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards at Barker Hangar on June 16, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Now playing
00:55
'Black Panther' star honors Waffle House hero
PHOTO: NBC/Broadway Video
Now playing
01:34
The Black Panther plays 'Jeopardy!' on 'SNL'
Now playing
01:50
Kids see themselves in 'Black Panther' heroes
English rock group the Baker Gurvitz Army in a studio, August 1974. Left to right: Paul Gurvitz, Ginger Baker and Adrian Gurvitz. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Michael Putland/Getty Images
English rock group the Baker Gurvitz Army in a studio, August 1974. Left to right: Paul Gurvitz, Ginger Baker and Adrian Gurvitz. (Photo by Michael Putland/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:35
Legendary drummer Ginger Baker dies aged 80
PHOTO: Courtesy Grants Pass Department of Public Safety
Now playing
00:44
Actor Charles Levin found dead
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Denise Nickerson who played Violet Beauregarde in the original film attends the 40th Anniversary of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory at Jacques Torres Chocolates on October 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Cindy Ord/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 18: Denise Nickerson who played Violet Beauregarde in the original film attends the 40th Anniversary of Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory at Jacques Torres Chocolates on October 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:18
'Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory' actress has died
SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, followed by her brother, Tony Rodham, stop at Casa Bella Italian Restaurant in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Friday evening April 22, 2016. Hillary Clinton's father was born in Scranton, and she has family in the area. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
PHOTO: The Washington Post/Getty Images
SCRANTON, PENNSYLVANIA - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, followed by her brother, Tony Rodham, stop at Casa Bella Italian Restaurant in Scranton, Pennsylvania on Friday evening April 22, 2016. Hillary Clinton's father was born in Scranton, and she has family in the area. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Now playing
00:30
Hillary Clinton's brother Tony Rodham dead at 65
GULFPORT, MS - JUNE 22:  U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) looks on during a campaign rally at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport on June 22, 2014 in Gulfport, Mississippi.  Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
GULFPORT, MS - JUNE 22: U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) looks on during a campaign rally at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport on June 22, 2014 in Gulfport, Mississippi. Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Chris McDaniel, a Mississippi state senator, is locked in a tight runoff race with incumbent U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) who failed to win the nomination in the primary election. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:22
Longtime US Senator Thad Cochran dies at 81
Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr just before his retirement in 1972.
PHOTO: Vernon Biever/AP
Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr just before his retirement in 1972.
Now playing
01:00
Legendary quarterback Bart Starr passes away at 85
Niki Lauda celebrates after the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2017 in Northampton, England.
PHOTO: Dan Mullan/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
Niki Lauda celebrates after the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 16, 2017 in Northampton, England.
Now playing
01:58
​​Niki Lauda: Three-time F1 champ dies aged 70​
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Actor Tim Conway arrives at the Paley Center for Media and TV Land salute of "The Bob Newhart Show" at the Paley Center for Media on September 5, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Michael Buckner/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 05: Actor Tim Conway arrives at the Paley Center for Media and TV Land salute of "The Bob Newhart Show" at the Paley Center for Media on September 5, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:07
Tim Conway of 'The Carol Burnett Show' dead at 85

Story highlights

NEW: George Lucas says Baker was the "heart and soul" of R2-D2

Baker died Saturday after a long illness, his niece says

Fellow actors, fans remember him on social media

(CNN) —  

Kenny Baker, the British actor who gave life to the droid R2-D2 in the “Star Wars” films, has died at the age of 81, according to his niece, Abigail Shield.

Baker was being looked after by Shield’s brother, who found him Saturday morning. Shield said Baker was ill for years with a lung condition.

She also said her uncle – who was 3 feet, 8 inches tall – did not expect to “live past his teenage years because he was a ‘little person,’ so it is pretty amazing he lived this long.”

Baker died in his sleep Saturday morning, according to his nephew and caregiver Andrew Myerscough.

That was Baker’s wish – to go peacefully, his nephew said. “I couldn’t ask for more.”

Up until his final moments, Baker was in good spirits and was watching the Olympics on television, Myerscough said.

’An inspiration to many’

But the actor’s family watched him deteriorate for years because of respiratory problems.

“I cared for him every day,” Myerscough said. “He was a huge part of my life and I’m going to miss him.”