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When you think of the original cast of Star Wars characters, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are likely the first names that come to mind. But there were others who were alongside that trio, like Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca. Sadly, it’s been announced that Mayhew recently passed away just shy of his 75th birthday.
As revealed by his family via his Twitter page, Peter Mayhew died on the evening of Tuesday, April 30 in his North Texas home surrounded by his loved ones. He is survived by his wife Angie and three children.
No cause of death was revealed in the press release, but Peter Mayhew's family told ABC News he suffered a heart attack. It's also worth noting that Mayhew had undergone a spinal surgery to improve his mobility, and he had been recovering from that procedure. There will be a memorial service held for family and friends on June 29, and a memorial will be set up at Empire Con LA this December for fans to check out that Mayhew’s family will attend, as well as feature some of the actor’s “personal effects” and “collection.”
Born on May 19, 1944, Peter Mayhew kicked off his film career when he was cast in the uncredited role of Minoton in 1977’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Shortly thereafter, George Lucas discovered Mayhew and felt he was the perfect height to play Chewbacca in the first Star Wars movie, a.k.a. A New Hope.
Along with reprising Han Solo’s Wookiee partner in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, Peter Mayhew also donned the Chewbacca suit during the Original Trilogy era for Donny & Marie, the Star Wars Holiday Special and The Muppet Show. Years later, Mayhew returned to the big screen side of the Star Wars franchise for the final installment of the Prequel Trilogy, Revenge of the Sith. He also voiced Chewbacca for an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Peter Mayhew made his final Star Wars appearance in The Force Awakens, where he shared the Chewbacca role with Joonas Suotamo. Afterward, he retired from playing the character due to health issues, and Suotamo took over the role fully, but Mayhew did still consult on Chewbacca for The Last Jedi.
Outside of the Star Wars franchise, Peter Mayhew is also notable for playing The Tall Knight in the 1981 series Dark Towers, voicing Susha in the English dub of Dragon Ball GT: A Hero’s Legacy and playing himself Comic Book: The Movie. He also attended numerous fan conventions and established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which aids in a variety of charitable causes.
We here at CinemaBlend offer our condolences to Peter Mayhew’s loved ones. Feel free to share your thoughts about the Star Wars icon in the comments below.