Actor Peter Mayhew has passed away. He was 74-years old. Mayhew is best-known for playing the world famous Wookiee Chewbacca from the Star Wars franchise from the original trilogy, all the way to 2015's The Force Awakens, which was not easy for him to pull off. Mayhew died April 30th in his North Texas home with family by his side, according to his official Twitter account, who shared the news today. The actor had undergone spinal surgery in July to improve his mobility.
Peter Mayhew played Chewbacca in Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Return of the Jedi (1983), Revenge of the Sith (2005), and The Force Awakens (2015). Mayhew also served as a consultant on The Last Jedi to help new Chewbacca actor Joonas Suotamo. Mayhew was a fixture on the convention scene over the years and was always more than happy to take a picture with Star Wars fans who could not believe they were meeting the man behind the iconic growl.
It's a sad day for Peter Mayhew's family and for Star Wars fans all around the world. The actor stood at 7 feet 3 inches, which was what landed him the Chewbacca role in the first place, but it was also a strain on his body. In 2013, Mayhew underwent double knee replacement surgery, which is not an easy thing to do at all. However, he quickly bounced back and was able to get out of his wheelchair to portray Chewie on the big screen one more time in The Force Awakens, thanks to the encouragement from director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy.
Peter Mayhew was born on May 19th, 1944 in Barnes, Surrey, which is where he was also raised. He always stuck out in a crowd due to his height, but it never seemed to worry him. When getting ready to make Star Wars, George Lucas was on the hunt for someone tall to play Chewbacca and settled with 6-foot-6-inch bodybuilder David Prowse, but the actor later chose to play Darth Vader instead. Mayhew was discovered while working as an orderly in the radiology department of King's College Hospital, London. The actor often joked that all he had to do to get the part of Chewie was "stand up."
Peter Mayhew is going to be missed. He was a huge presence on the set of the Star Wars movies and around the conventions. He has traveled the world representing Star Wars and bringing joy to all of the fans for over 30 years. He established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which provided help of all kinds to people in need from all over the world and took his fame seriously as a way to give back to the world. You can read the incredible tribute by his family below, thanks to the Peter Mayhew Twitter account. Rest In Peace, Peter Mayhew and may the Force be with you.