Television & Film

Peter Mayhew Dead at 74

Peter Mayhew, known to millions of Star Wars fans around the world as Chewbacca, has died. He was 74.

Condolences to his family have poured in from all corners of the globe and, of course, from those who knew him best.

Harrison Ford told The Hollywood Reporter:

“Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience. Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together. He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to its continued success and he was devoted to them. I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all.  My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend…. “

Peter Mayhew was born in Barnes, Surrey, England in 1944. The 7’3″ actor got his start playing an uncredited role as The Minotaur in the 1977 film Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, where one of the makeup crew who was also working on the Chewbacca costume for Star Wars noticed him. A recommendation to the producers and audition later, and a beloved icon of science fiction was born. In 2015, Mayhew told the Australian radio program 891 ABC Adelaide that he was sitting on a couch, waiting to audition:

“George walks in, I stand up, and he says, ‘Hmmm, I think we’ve found him’ to his co-producer.”

Mayhew would play Chewbacca throughout the film series, until his retirement from the role after Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He continued to consult on the role through Solo: A Star Wars Story and made appearances as Chewbacca on The Clone Wars, The Muppet Show, and Glee, as well as many personal appearances – in costume and out – at conventions and visiting sick children at hospitals.

He passed away from a heart attack on May 2nd, at his home in Boyd, Texas. A memorial service is planned for June 29th, and there will be a Los Angeles ceremony honoring his life later this year. He is survived by his wife Angie and their three children.

Timothy Harvey

Timothy Harvey is a Kansas City based writer, director, actor and editor, with something of a passion for film noir movies. He was the art director for the horror films American Maniacs, Blood of Me, and the pilot for the science fiction series Paradox City. His own short films include the Noir Trilogy, 9 1/2 Years, The Statement of Randolph Carter - adapted for the screen by Jason Hunt - and the music video for IAMEVE’s Temptress. He’s a former President and board member for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City, and has served on the board of Film Society KC.

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