Star Wars Fame Peter Mayhew Dies at 74

Updated: Jun 18, 2019

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played the tall and shaggy Chewbacca the Wookiee in the Star Wars films, passed away at the age of 74.

Mayhew died at his home in North Texas on Tuesday, according to a family statement released Thursday on his Twitter account. No cause of death was mentioned. He underwent a spinal surgery last summer to improve his mobility, but, other than that no medical conditions were found to the specifics.

Mayhew is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children.

"He was the gentlest of giants," Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill tweeted. "A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I'm grateful for the memories we shared & I'm a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete."

Ford and Mayhew's characters were close friends and piloted the Millennium Falcon. "We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him," said Ford.

"He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience."

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy added: "Peter's iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been an integral part to the character's success, and to the Star Wars saga itself.

An inhabitant of London, the 7-foot-3 Mayhew played Chewbacca, assistant to Han Solo, in the original Star Wars trilogy. He continued with his roles in two more installments, Revenge of the sith in 2005 and The Force awakens in 2015.

Mayhew was a part-time actor working at the hospital orderly when he was offered the role of Chewbacca. Writer-director George Lucas reportedly casted Mayhew because his height allowed him to play taller than Darth Vader.

According to the family sources, Mayhew was very devoted towards his Star Wars family and always considered them above anything else, the role of Chewbacca was also considered less in front of the Star Wars family by him.

Chewbacca, sometimes also known as the walking carpet, could be dangerous if necessary — but often he was a lovable companion to the films' other characters. He was a favorite on the fan convention circuit, and Mayhew spent 30 years traveling the world to share the Star Wars magic.

Mayhew used his fame to support several nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping veterans and families and children in need. His Peter Mayhew Foundation was dedicated to "the alleviation of pain, disease and suffering," by supporting other charitable organizations. He was a man full of god deeds.

Dan Robinson, who met the legend at San Diego Comic Con 2004, said Mayhew brought life to a character no one could understand, other than Han, of course.

A memorial service for friends and family will be held on June 29. In early December, there will be a memorial in Los Angeles for fans.

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