Peter Mayhew, the towering British actor best known for his long-time role as Chewbacca, Han Solo’s fuzzball sidekick and co-pilot in the Star Wars film franchise, has died. He was 74. Though the actor never revealed his face in the Star Wars movies, his character has been a prominent figure in the popular franchise since the beginning, having appeared in the Original Trilogy starting in 1977, and then in Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith (2005) and some of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
The Mayhew family formally announced the actor’s passing over social media earlier today, saying that he died on the evening of April 30, 2019 at his North Texas home surrounded by family. The statement revealed that Mayhew had been suffering through a series of physical ailments in the past few years, but had overcome being wheelchair-bound to reprise his role as Chewbacca in 2015’s The Force Awakens. However, the years started to take its toll, and the 7-foot, 3-inch actor would soon have to pass on the Wookiee suit and bowcaster to Joonas Suotamo. Suotamo had already played the more physical parts for Chewbacca in The Force Awakens before taking over the role completely in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story. But Mayhew did serve as “Chewbacca Consultant” for both of those later films.
But Mayhew’s legacy goes far beyond Star Wars, as he used that fame to help with numerous charities and foundations like Make-A-Wish, Wounded Warrior, the 501 Legion, and many more, including the nonprofit he founded, the Peter Mayhew Foundation.
Mayhew is survived by his wife Angie and three children.
There will be a memorial service for friends and family held on June 29, 2019. There will be a special memorial set up for fans at in early December at EmpireCon LA in Los Angeles, CA, with Mayhew’s family, personal effects, and collection.
RIP Peter Mayhew
May 19, 1944 – April 30, 2019