Peter Mayhew, the actor best known for originating the role of Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, died on Tuesday. He was 74.
Mayhew’s family shared the news in a statement posted to the actor’s Twitter account, which you can read in full below.
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 (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
Mayhew began playing Chewbacca in the eponymous Star Wars film in 1977. He reprised the role for the two remaining films in the original trilogy. More than two decades later, Mayhew made a cameo appearance in Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith. That movie showed Chewbacca fighting alongside his fellow Wookiees on their home planet of Kashyyyk during the Clone Wars.
RELATED: California Officially Recognizes May 4th as Star Wars Day
In 2015, Mayhew returned to his iconic role one last time in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. For the first time, he shared the role with Joonas Suotamo. After that, Mayhew retired from playing Chewbacca due to health problems and allowed Suotamo to carry on as his replacement in future installments. However, Mayhew remained part of the franchise as a “Chewbacca consultant.”
The actor’s family was quick to point out how much the unparalleled fandom of Star Wars meant to him over the years.
“The relationships that began then grew into the friends and family that he would love for decades to come,” said the family in a statement. “As the films released and became more well-known he had his eyes opened to the possibilities of what he could achieve with his role in the Star Wars universe. For more than 30 years traveled all over the world spending time with his fans and friends. Peter developed lifelong friendships with the other cast members and his fans while on the convention circuit touching the lives of millions. As he realized over the years the impact he could have, he became heavily involved with the 501st legion, Wounded Warriors, Make-a-Wish, and other non-profit organizations.”
A memorial service for Mayhew will be held on June 29. The actor’s family is also planning a memorial event for fans at EmpireConLA in early December.
You can share your favorite memories of Peter Mayhew in the comment section below.