My phone seems to know me too well. Earlier today I had chosen to avail myself of a little free time to indulge in a brief nap. Upon waking I reached over to collect my phone which was charging nearby and the screen opened to a headline, despite me not having had the internet connection on any news feed that I recalled. "Kenny Baker, the Man Inside R2-D2, Dead at 81".
As the producer and co-host of The Rantcor Pit and The Rantcor Pit Live, I felt a few words on the passing of Kenny Baker were in order here on the JCU site.
It was rare that I would seek celebrity autographs at various signings over the years. As a result I only had one opportunity to really meet Kenny Baker in person, despite various appearances at conventions in the Dallas area over the years. I did opt to stand in line with friends who were seeking his autograph and had the opportunity to see the joy that he and his wife took in greeting the fans. There was a glow about the man as he greeted Star Wars fan after Star Wars fan seeking to say hello, to thank him for his role in the film that inspired so many, and to take home a memento of such a meeting, if only far too brief.
As an actor it must have been quite a surprise for Baker to be propelled into the spotlight of phenomenon that came with what was a most curious role indeed. Sitting all day inside the shell of a robot in a space movie? Yet in behind the scenes footage it is obvious that he gave it his all and by Jedi was having the time of his life inside that cumbersome costume.
While it was George Lucas' vision that gave us a man inside the machine, it was Kenny Baker who truly gave us R2-D2!
I never really got to meet the man, but I know that my enjoyment of C-3PO's friend and foil was greatly enhanced by his presence.
Farewell Kenny Baker.
Thank you for the memories.
Cole "JediCole" Houston
August 13, 2016