The Guardian reports:
The British actor who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars films has died at the age of 81 after a long illness. Kenny Baker, who was 3ft 8in tall, shot to fame in 1977 when he first played the robot character.
He went on to play the character in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as the three Star Wars prequels from 1999 to 2005. He also appeared in a number of other much loved films in the 1980s, including The Elephant Man, Time Bandits and Flash Gordon.
. . .
Baker met his wife Eileen after an appearance on the Michael Parkinson TV chat show. She wrote in and said she was a little person too and wanted to meet him. “They got married soon after,” Shield said. “Sadly she died of epilepsy about 20 years ago.”
Shield added: “He had problems with his lungs and was often in a wheelchair. He was very poorly for a long time. He was asked to go out to LA for the new Star Wars premiere, but he was told he was too ill to travel. Luckily he did manage to meet George Lucas again when he came to Manchester.”
There's more at the link.
Perhaps the most appropriate tribute to Mr. Baker came from Luke Skywalker himself, a.k.a. Mark Hamill, who tweeted:
Goodbye #KennyBaker A lifelong loyal friend - I loved his optimism & determination He WAS the droid I was looking for!