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Arts & Life

Kenny Baker, Actor Who Played R2-D2, Dies At 81

(SOUNDBITE OF R2-D2 DROID)

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

That is the unmistakable voice of the "Star Wars" droid R2-D2. The small, domed, silver and white robot on wheels wasn't just made up of gears and other robotic bits. R2-D2 actually contained an actor. In real life, that actor, Kenny Baker, sounded like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KENNY BAKER: It's good for kids, isn't it? It's a good kids' movie. And, you know, there's no blood and real murders of any kind, so - and there's no swearing of any kind.

MARTIN: Kenny Baker died yesterday at the age of 81 after a long illness. Mr. Baker was only 3 feet, 8 inches tall, which made him the perfect size to fit inside the R2-D2 costume. But in an interview on his own website, he said he didn't really want the part that eventually made him so famous. He told George Lucas, quote, "I don't want to be stuck in a robot. What for, for goodness sake?" 20th Century Fox posted a photo of R2-D2 that said, rest in peace, Kenny Baker, the heart and soul of R2-D2. (Imitating R2-D2 droid). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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