On This Day … 24 August [2022]


People (Births)

  • 1934 – Kenny Baker, English actor (d. 2016).

People (Deaths)

  • 1940 – Paul Gottlieb Nipkow, Polish-German technician and inventor, invented the Nipkow disk (b. 1860).
  • 2014 – Richard Attenborough, English actor, director, producer, and politician (b. 1923).

Kenny Baker

Kenneth George Baker (24 August 1934 to 13 August 2016) was an English actor, comedian and musician. He portrayed the character R2-D2 in the Star Wars franchise and also appeared in The Elephant Man, Time Bandits, Willow, Flash Gordon, Amadeus, and Labyrinth.

Star Wars

While working with Purvis and the Minitones, Baker was selected by George Lucas to operate the robot (“droid”) R2-D2 in the fantasy feature film Star Wars, released in 1977. Baker recalled that he initially turned down the role, concerned about breaking up the Minitones partnership when the duo had reached the final on the British television talent show Opportunity Knocks.

Baker appears as R2-D2 in six of the episodic theatrical Star Wars films, and played an additional role in 1983’s Return of the Jedi as Paploo, the Ewok who steals an Imperial speeder bike. He was originally due to play Wicket, but he fell ill and that role was handed over to Warwick Davis.

Baker continued his association with the R2-D2 character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which was released on 18 December 2015 in North America. He was going to be a member of the cast, but he served as consultant for the character instead. In November 2015, it was confirmed that Jimmy Vee was cast as R2-D2 in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, replacing Baker.

As technology grew and the need to have Baker in the suit decreased over time, he was used sporadically in the prequel trilogy. In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, he was used in just one scene.

Paul Gottlieb Nipkow

Paul Julius Gottlieb Nipkow (22 August 1860 to 24 August 1940) was a German technician and inventor. He invented the Nipkow disk, which laid the foundation of television, since his disk was a fundamental component in the first televisions. Hundreds of stations experimented with television broadcasting using his disk in the 1920s and 1930s, until it was superseded by all-electronic systems in the 1940s.

Nipkow has been called the “father of television”, together with other early figures of television history like Karl Ferdinand Braun.

The first public television station in the world, Fernsehsender Paul Nipkow, was named in his honour.

Richard Attenborough

Richard Samuel Attenborough, Baron Attenborough Kt CBE FRSA (29 August 1923 to 24 August 2014) was an English actor, filmmaker, and entrepreneur. He was the president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), as well as the life president of Chelsea FC. He joined the Royal Air Force during the Second World War and served in the film unit, going on several bombing raids over Europe and filming the action from the rear gunner’s position. He was the older brother of broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and motor executive John Attenborough. He was married to actress Sheila Sim from 1945 until his death.

As an actor, he is best remembered for his film roles in Brighton Rock (1948), I’m All Right Jack (1959), The Great Escape (1963), The Sand Pebbles (1966), Doctor Dolittle (1967), 10 Rillington Place (1971), Jurassic Park (1993), and Miracle on 34th Street (1994). In 1952 he appeared on the West End stage, originating the role of Detective Sergeant Trotter in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap which has since become the world’s longest-running play.

For his directorial debut, 1969’s Oh! What a Lovely War, Attenborough was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Direction, and he was nominated for his films Young Winston (1972), A Bridge Too Far (1977), and Cry Freedom. He won two Academy Awards for Gandhi in 1983: Best Picture and Best Director. The BFI ranked Gandhi the 34th greatest British film of the 20th century. Attenborough also won four BAFTA Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and the 1983 BAFTA Fellowship for lifetime achievement.

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