Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in five Star Wars films, has passed away at the age of 74, his family announced today. Mayhew played the role in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: VI Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith, and Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens.
His family issued the following statement on the actor’s social channels:
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.
Peter was the man behind the mask of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, episode 3 of the prequels, and the New Trilogy. He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also consulted on The Last Jedi in an attempt to teach his successor. He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth. But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.
The relationships that began then grew into the friends and family that he would love for decades to come. 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 Peter 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.
To this end, he established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, supporting everything from individuals and families in crisis situations to food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom. He not only provided funds but became personally involved with each individual, family and cause he supported.
As he grew older he continued to “soldier on” as he put it and was completely in his element around his fans and supporters. He grew great strength from the energy of his family, friends and the fans he knew and loved.
He is survived by his wife Angie and three children. His kindness, generosity and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice.
There will be a memorial service for friends and family held on June 29th and in early December in Los Angeles there will be a memorial for fans set up with his family in attendance, personal effects, and collection at EmpireConLA.
For additional information, information on the memorials or to offer condolences email [email protected]
Rather than gifts and flowers the family asks that you consider donating to the foundation so that they can continue his efforts to help the community. You can donate at http://petermayhewfoundation.org/make-a-donation.php
“We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing,” said Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “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. When I first met Peter during The Force Awakens, I was immediately impressed by his kind and gentle nature. Peter was brilliantly able to express his personality through his skillful use of gesture, posture, and eyes. We all love Chewie, and have Peter to thank for that enduring memory.”
The tributes have started coming in as well…
George Lucas on the passing of Chewbacca actor, Peter Mayhew: pic.twitter.com/61a0MS9Yvc
— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) May 3, 2019
R.I.P 😔 pic.twitter.com/FWRgaOS0Tf
— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) May 2, 2019
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 on the death of his friend, Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew: pic.twitter.com/DvVZYICwZ9
— Ryan Parker (@TheRyanParker) May 3, 2019
— Billy Dee Williams (@realbdw) May 3, 2019
— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 2, 2019