R.I.P. Chewy...Actor Peter Mayhew, the Original Chewbacca, Dies at 74

40 Years of Star Wars Panel at the 2017 Star Wars Celebration

Some sad news to report - Peter Mayhew, the beloved actor best known for playing 'Chewbacca' in most of the Star Wars films, has passed away at the age of 74.

Mayhew died April 30 at his North Texas home surrounded by his family, a tweet from Mayhew's official Twitter account said.

"The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away," the tweet stated. "He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home."

"He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame," a statement from the family said.

View image on Twitter

Peter Mayhew✔@TheWookieeRoars
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.
99.9K
3:24 PM - May 2, 2019

The 7'3" Mayhew was first discovered by producer Charles H. Schneer while working as a hospital attendant in London. Schneer cast Mayhew in Ray Harryhausen's 'Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.' One year later, the actor was cast in the role of the 200-year-old Wookiee warrior known as Chewbacca, first appearing in 'Star Wars' in 1977. Mayhew returned as Chewbacca for every sequel from the original trilogy, the prequels, as well as for 'Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.' Finnish-born actor Joonas Suotamo took over for Mayhew in later Star Wars installments, including 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' and the upcoming 'The Rise of Skywalker.'

Mayhew did not provide the voice for Chewbacca, but many critics said the actor's body language and expressive eyes brought the Wookie to life, instantly making the character a fan favorite. The actor often spoke fondly about the Star Wars franchise, saying in one interview that it had been "the best thing that ever happened to me. In the past 25 years I've been able to travel all over the world and get paid for it I never had to pay for a thing I can go out in public without being recognized if I want to be recognized in public it will happen, Star Wars was great to me, I'm set for life."

Fellow Star Wars alum, Mark Hamill, reacted to the death of his friend on Twitter, writing: "He was the gentlest of giants-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 #RIPPeterMayhew#Heartbroken@TheWookieeRoars"

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Mark Hamill✔@HamillHimself
He was the gentlest of giants-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 #RIPPeterMayhew#Heartbroken@TheWookieeRoars

He is survived by his wife Angie and three children.

A private memorial honoring Mayhew is scheduled for June 29. Another gathering for fans is been scheduled later this year for EmpireCon LA in December.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, people consider donating to the Peter Mayhew Foundation.

Photo: Getty Images

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