Peter Mayhew, known to millions of Star Wars fans around the world as Chewbacca, has died. He was 74.
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. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u
— Peter Mayhew Foundation (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
Condolences to his family have poured in from all corners of the globe and, of course, from those who knew him best.
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 (@MarkHamill) May 2, 2019
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…. “
He knew. https://t.co/sbixEmncx1
— Peter Mayhew Foundation (@TheWookieeRoars) May 3, 2019
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.