The man who built the first version of everyone's favorite little 'droid has left this galaxy behind.
According to the Associated Press, Tony Dyson, the man who built the original R2-D2 for the first Star Wars film, passed away at his home in Gozo, Malta, at the age of 68.
Dyson, who lived in Malta since the early 1990s, was found dead on March 4, several days after neighbors reported that he was missing. Although an exact cause of death had not been announced at press time and investigators were looking into the matter, foul play was not suspected.
Dyson, who was born on April 13, 1947, was running a special effects shop called the White Horse Toy Company in 1976 when he got the call to create a total of eight R2-D2 units for director George Lucas' Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. Of the eight, two were constructed for actor Kenny Baker to sit in them, while another six were operated by remote control.
No one at the time, including Dyson, knew that Star Wars would become a cultural phenomenon and that little R2 and his counterpart, C-3PO, would end up as two of the most recognizable and iconic non-human characters in film history.
Dyson also contributed robotics and other effects to a number of other movies, including Superman II, Moonraker, Saturn 3 and Altered States, and was nominated for an Emmy in 1985 for a Sony commercial featuring a robot lookalike of actor John Cleese. But R2-D2 will clearly endure as his best-known creation. You can read more at his personal website, www.tonydyson.com.