Reed Saxon, File, Associated Press
FILE- In this Saturday, May 26, 2007 file photo, actor Kenny Baker, who portrayed the R2-D2 in the first Star Wars movie, signs autographs at Star Wars Celebration IV, billed as the world's biggest Star Wars party, marking the 30th anniversary of the release of the first film in the Star Wars saga, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Baker, 81, has died Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. His niece, Abigail Shield, said he was found dead by a nephew on Saturday at his home in northwest England after a long illness.

LONDON (AP) — Kenny Baker, the 3-foot 8-inch (1.1 meter) actor who played R2-D2 in the "Star Wars" films, has died. He was 81.

Baker's nephew and carer, Drew Myserscough, said he found Baker dead Saturday at his home in Preston, northwest England.

Born in Birmingham, central England, in 1934, Baker started his showbiz career at 16 as part of a troupe of small performers, and later worked as a DJ, circus clown and comedian, according to his official website.

Baker was the actor inside R2-D2's cylindrical costume in George Lucas's 1977 film "Star Wars." The lovable droid and his lanky friend C-3PO became two of the series' most beloved characters.

Baker returned for "The Empire Strikes Back," ''Return of the Jedi" and three prequels released from 1999.