Kenny Baker

His small stature of 3'8" - while possibly a hindrance for some - proved to be an asset for actor-comedian Kenny Baker, as it allowed him to portray one of pop culture's most iconic characters, the barrel-shaped droid R2-D2 in "Star Wars" (1977). Using his dwarfism to his advantage from an early age, Baker went directly from school to the world of entertainment, working in the theater, the circus, and even in a long-running ice show. Teaming with Jack Purvis, another similarly vertically-challenged performer, he formed the successful musical-comedy act The Mini-Tones prior to being cast in the blockbuster "Star Wars." Baker returned for the sequel "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" (1980), in addition to appearances in "The Elephant Man" (1980), "Time Bandits" (1981) and "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" (1983). There were other small roles in films like "Amadeus" (1984) and "Labyrinth" (1986) prior to Baker's return to the stage and comedy circuit before he was called back into service by "Star Wars" director George Lucas in 1999. With the completion of the third prequel film, "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" (2005), Baker and co-star Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) became the only two actors to perform in all six of the original "Star Wars" films. Although hidden within a metallic shell, Baker's performance imbued the adorably cantankerous R2-D2 with a humanity appreciated by generations of fans the world over. Kenny Baker died on August 13, 2016, following an exended illness. He was 81.