Peter Mayhew, the actor behind the character of Chewbacca from the “Star Wars” franchise, has died. He was 74.
He passed in North Texas surrounded by his family on the evening of April 30, according to a statement posted to the late actor’s Twitter account.
Mayhew is most widely known for his portrayal of the more-than-200-year-old Wookie Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” franchise. He donned the costume in five films — “A New Hope,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” “Revenge of the Sith,” and “The Force Awakens” — as well as “The Star Wars Holiday Special.”
Mayhew was able to attend Star Wars Celebration this year in Chicago but did cancel his appearances on April 11.
At his tallest, Mayhew stood at 7 feet 3 inches, although his height was not due to gigantism.
Peter Mayhew at the premiere of “Solo: A Star Wars Story” on May 10, 2018 in Hollywood, California.
Axelle | Bauer-Griffin | FilmMagic | Getty Images
When Mayhew wasn’t acting he was an active philanthropist. He worked with groups like the 501st Legion, Wounded Warriors and Make-A-Wish. He also established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which is now set to be run by his wife Angie Mayhew.
A memorial service for friends and family is set to take place in late June while a fan memorial is expected to occur in December at EmpireCon LA.
The role of Chewbacca was passed to Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo in “The Last Jedi,” although he acted as a double in “The Force Awakens.” Suotamo reprised the role in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” and will play Chewbacca in “The Rise of Skywalker” due out in December.
“Star Wars” star Mark Hamill paid tribute to Mayhew on Twitter, describing the actor as “a big man with an even bigger heart.”
Others mourned Mayhew’s passing on social media:
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 pic.twitter.com/8xbq9HEWF2
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019
We’ve lost a friend and #StarWars legend. The mighty #PeterMayhew brought such warmth, humour and humility to the beloved character of #Chewbacca. His personal wit and charm will be missed by Star Wars fans across the galaxy too. #RIPPeterMayhew pic.twitter.com/dm6Sd6oNPS
— Warwick Davis (@WarwickADavis) May 3, 2019
Peter Mayhew created one of the greatest film characters of all time. Chewbacca was funny, courageous, and caring. He did it all without the benefit of speech, just that vocal growly cry that 1 in 100 fans can do real well when they’re drunk. He was always really nice to me.#RIP
— alan tudyk (@AlanTudyk) May 3, 2019
— Ashley Eckstein (@HerUniverse) May 2, 2019
May the Force Be with You, #PeterMayhew! As the King of the Cinematic Sidekicks, your performance helped make my childhood fun! Thank you for bringing Chewbacca to life and for always waving the flag for fandom! We may have let the Wookie win, but YOU won our hearts, sir! pic.twitter.com/B6cpKTKyv2
— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) May 3, 2019
It is with great sadness to share news of the loss of @TheWookieeRoars Peter was not only a Star Wars legend, but a friend to many in the 501st Legion as well as an honorary member himself. Donations can be made to the Peter Mayhew Foundation: https://t.co/JiYAaM4Gpq #BucketsOff pic.twitter.com/5MwRT8tRME
— 501st Legion (@501stLegion) May 2, 2019
Thank you for bringing Chewbacca to life and giving us years of memories. Rest In Peace, Peter Mayhew. May the Force be with you. pic.twitter.com/lBwy1N3GKS
— New York Comic Con (@NY_Comic_Con) May 2, 2019
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Mayhew. He was our beloved companion in a galaxy far, far, away. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and fans. The force will be with you always, Peter.
— San Diego Comic-Con (@Comic_Con) May 2, 2019
We had the honor of meeting Peter Mayhew at Star Wars Celebration last month. Today we thank him for making Star Wars feel like home for many fans. Rest in peace, Mr. Mayhew. pic.twitter.com/dpCDbaCR0c
— Funko (@OriginalFunko) May 2, 2019
Sad to hear of Peter Mayhew’s passing. So long, Chewie, may the force be with you.
— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) May 2, 2019
San Diego @Comic_Con was my 2nd event in the US many years with both Peter Mayhew and Kenny Baker. We had laughs and fun meeting everyone. Memories I will have forever. May the Force be with both of them always! https://t.co/JUKNvVTAyt
— Daniel Logan (@Daniel_Logan) May 2, 2019
Author: Sarah Whitten