Society

'Star Wars' Red Leader Dies After Choking On His Lunch

| by Kathryn Schroeder

An actor from the original "Star Wars" died after choking on his lunch.

Gordon “Drewe” Henley, 75, had a long acting career, but was well-known for his role as X-Wing Squadron Red Leader Garven Dreis in “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope,” according to the Daily Mail. Parts of the film that featured Henley were also used in the most recent film in the franchise, “Rogue One.”

“Episode IV” was the last film Henley, who was previously married to English actress Felicity Kendal, appeared in. He was diagnosed with manic depression after filming completed and he then retired from acting.

In 2013, Henley was diagnosed with vascular dementia and may have had drug-related Parkinsonism due to long-term use of antipsychotic medication. He was admitted to the Franklyn Hospital's mental health unit six times between September 2015 and his death.

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On his final admittance for a chest infection, and concerns that he was not consuming enough fluids and food, speech and language therapists determined he could safely ingest food and drink, and the nursing staff did not observe him having difficulties doing so. But, while eating his fish pie lunch, Henley choked.

“Almost halfway through the meal the patient choked. I gave him three back slaps and I called for help,” Bridget Selbera, Henley’s mental health nurse, said during an inquest.

The nursing staff were unable to resuscitate Henley. The Heimlich maneuver was not used because of his frail condition.

“As part of his mental health he had some paranoid disillusions and belief about food and fluid such as people trying to poison him which meant he was often not eating or drinking sufficiently to meet his dietary needs,” Dr. Joseph Butchart, a consultant in geriatric and general medicine at the hospital, said of Henley’s health background.

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Selbera described Henley’s mental health the day he died as “predominantly confused.”

The “Star Wars” franchise recently lost actress Carrie Fisher, who played one of its most iconic characters, Princess Leia. Fisher, 60, died four days after suffering cardiac arrest during a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23, 2016, according to the BBC.

Fisher reprised her role as Princess Leia in the 2015 release, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” and recently wrapped production on “Star Wars: Episode VIII," which is due in theaters in 2017.

She was supposed to be in future “Star Wars” films, and questions over whether she will be digitally recreated for them have been answered.

"Lucasfilm has no plans to digitally recreate Carrie Fisher's performance" the company said in a statement.

“Episode VIII” will be Fisher’s final film in the franchise.

Sources: Daily Mail, BBC / Photo credit: 20th Century Fox via Daily Mail

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