What You Need to Know: Peter Mayhew
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Photo: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

‘Star Wars’ Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, dead at 74

Actor Peter Mayhew, the beloved “Star Wars” character, Chewbacca, has died. Mayhew passed away on April 30, according to a statement from his family. He was 74.

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“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,” Mayhew’s family said on Twitter.

The actor played the beloved Wookiee, Chewbacca, in the first three “Star Wars” films and in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth,” according to his family statement.

“But to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.”

Harrison Ford, Peter Mayhew and Mark Hamill attend the 40 Years of Star Wars panel during the 2017 Star Wars Celebrationat Orange County Convention Center on April 13, 2017 in Orlando, Florida.
Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Disney

Mayhew was born in London, England, in 1944 and was first cast in 1977’s “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger” when film producer Charles H. Schneer saw a photo of Mayhew towering over the crowd around him.

According to Mayhew’s biography, his life was forever changed when he was offered the role of a big hairy beast in “Star Wars: Episode VI - New Hope” in 1977.

“For more than 30 years Peter traveled all over the world spending time with his fans and friends. Peter developed lifelong friendships with other cast members and his fans while on the convention circuit touching the lives of millions. As he realized over the years the impact could have, he became heavily involved in the 501st legion, Wounded Warriors, Make-a-Wish and other nonprofit organizations,” his family said.

“Star Wars” co-star Mark Hamill called Mayhew “the gentlest of giants" with “an even bigger heart” and said he's "a better man for just having known him.”

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

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