Beloved fan favorite actor Peter Mayhew, best known for originating the role of the wookiee Chewbacca in the Star Wars movies and TV specials has passed away. His family announced the sad news in a post to social media from Peter’s account. Peter Mayhew was 74.
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’s tall physique and physicality earned him the role of Chewbacca, the close friend and co-pilot to the smuggler Han Solo. He portrayed the Wookie in the original trilogy, then reprised the role in the prequels. He came out of retirement, and knee surgeries that left him wheelchair bound to play Chewie one more time in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Although the voice of Chewbacca was provided by special effects artist, Mayhew gave life to the wookiee through his physical acting abilities.
Mayhew had reportedly been in failing health and had to cancel a number of recent public appearances, although he was at the recent Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. Mayhew was always kind to fans and loved to share stories of his days on and off the set of Star Wars movies. He died on April 30th at his home in Texas. His family just made the announcement today.
Reactions from the film community are already pouring in.
Mark Hamill who played Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars movies:
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
Actor Joonas Suotamo who took over the weighty mantle of Chewbacca from Mayhew:
R.I.P 😔 pic.twitter.com/FWRgaOS0Tf
— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) May 2, 2019
Disney CEO Robert Iger:
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 2, 2019
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy:
“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.”
Billy Dee Williams, Lando Calrissian actor in Star Wars:
— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) May 3, 2019
Director of Star Wars: The Last Jedi Rian Johnson:
RIP Peter Mayhew. To create a beloved character with warmth and humor is a testament to any actor’s spirit. To do it under a half ton of yak hair takes a true legend. ❤️❤️
— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) May 3, 2019
Christopher Sean, voice of Kazudo Xiono in the Star Wars animated TV show “Star Wars Resistance.”
— Christopher Sean (@ChristopherSean) May 2, 2019
Matt Lanter, voice of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated TV series:
— Matt Lanter (@MattLanter) May 3, 2019
Star Wars novelist Kevin J. Anderson:
So sorry to hear about the loss of Peter Mayhew, Chewbacca. We were together at MANY conventions and often had dinner with the 501st. What a sweet, warm guy. We all owe him a life debt. pic.twitter.com/fCGzCd3cGt
— Kevin J Anderson (@TheKJA) May 2, 2019
One of the largest Star Wars fan public service organizations – the 501st Legion:
It is with great sadness to share news of the loss of @TheWookieeRoars Peter was not only a Star Wars legend, but a friend to many in the 501st Legion as well as an honorary member himself. Donations can be made to the Peter Mayhew Foundation: https://t.co/JiYAaM4Gpq #BucketsOff pic.twitter.com/5MwRT8tRME
— 501st Legion (@501stLegion) May 2, 2019
Mayhew is survived by his wife Angie and three children. We wish them the deepest of condolences and them for being a part of the legacy that Peter has left to his fans. The Wookiee Roars no more.
This is a developing story.