Peter Mayhew died at his home in North Texas on Tuesday, 30th April 2019, at age 74. His family announced the news on Thursday through a statement on his Twitter account. He is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children.
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
The British-US actor played Chewbacca, the giant Wookiee warrior in several “Star Wars” films from 1977 until 2015. He owned the role of the tall and shaggy giant who roared inarticulately, but somehow understandably.
Peter Mayhew was also a consultant for the most recent instalment, “The Last Jedi,” guiding his successor, Joonas Suotamo, a Finnish basketball player.
“He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame,” his family said.
The 7-foot-3 actor had undergone spinal surgery last year to improve his mobility, according to The Hollywood Reporter. However, the cause of death was not reported.
In a statement, Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy remembered Mayhew for his interpretation of the furry beast.
“We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing. Since 1976, Peter’s iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been absolutely integral to the character’s success, and to the Star Wars saga itself.”-Kathleen Kennedy.
— Star Wars (@starwars) May 3, 2019
Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker, described Mayhew as “the gentlest of giants”. He said,
“What was so remarkable about him was his spirit and his kindness. And his gentleness was so close to what a Wookiee is. He just radiated happiness and warmth. He was always up for a laugh and we just hit it off immediately and stayed friends for over 40 years.”
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 (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019
Harrison Ford also bid farewell to his Star Wars co-star.
Harrison Ford gave a heartfelt message following the announcement of his death on Thursday. In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, he said,
“Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. 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.”
He also credited Peter Mayhew for the popularity of the legendary science fiction film series.