Kenny Baker: Preston pays tribute to R2-D2 Star Wars actor

Kenny Baker
Image caption Kenny Baker was born in Birmingham and lived in Preston

People across Lancashire have paid tribute to "cheeky" Kenny Baker, the Star Wars R2-D2 actor who lived in Preston and has died aged 81.

The 3ft 8in (1.12m) actor made his name as the droid in the first Star Wars film in 1977.

His nephew and carer Drew Myerscough, 48, said he died at home on Saturday after suffering respiratory problems for about nine years.

Fans remembered his "wicked sense of humour and charm".

Baker regularly appeared at conventions and fan days across Lancashire and was "always happy to come out for the fans", according to Neil Livesey, organiser of Preston Comic Con, a comic book, film and pop culture convention.

Image copyright Neil Livesey
Image caption Neil Livesey said Kenny Baker was a "firm fan favourite"

He said the actor had a "lust for life", adding: "Lets just say he liked a glass of white wine and had a wicked sense of humour."

Nicky Danino, a lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, said: "Everyone knew who he was. We'll miss seeing his big smile around Preston.

"I remember once I was getting my hair cut and he drove up in his Rolls and walked in. He was so friendly, said hello to everyone and was greeted like a long lost friend. A real gent."

"Kenny was in his 80s but still happy to sign for fans. He had a cheeky sense of humour and if fans said they wanted an autograph in blue he said he would write it in black.

"He said 'I'll write what I want to write', but he was always happy to stop and meet people, whether in a restaurant or a supermarket.

'Real Preston celebrity'

"There was one fan who didn't manage to get an autograph at the convention so I called him up and he said bring him round to the house. So that's what we did, we met him at his house."

Lancashire filmmaker Amy Azra Dean wrote on Twitter: "Preston & the world has lost a film legend today. The city does not feel the same anymore, it all feels rather sad RIP"

Disability Equality NW, a Preston-based charity, tweeted: "Sad to hear of the passing of a real #Preston celebrity & nice guy. #RIP #KennyBaker #StarWars #R2D2"

Kashmir Watan Foodstore wrote on Facebook: "While he wasn't born in Preston, we were lucky that he chose to make the area his home for many, many years. He always had time for anyone and was such a humble man. Our thoughts are with his family at this time."

Rosina Gordon, from the store, added: "He was always so grounded and so humble and because the countryside around here is so beautiful, I think that's why he made it his home.

"Each time I got to meet him, it was only for a few minutes, but he always made you feel so valued and happy. He had a great smile and I don't think I saw him frowning ever. He was just a genuinely, really nice man."

Mr Myerscough said he had looked after his uncle in his home in Preston for the last five or six years:.

He said: "He wanted to stay at home where he was comfortable, and mercifully that's what happened."

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