Peter Mayhew, who was Chewbacca in ‘Star Wars,’ dies at 74

by in News

  • Actor Peter Mayhew, who played the original Chewbacca, arrives for the premiere of the film ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ in Hollywood, California on May 10, 2018. (Photo by Frederic J. Brown / AFP)

  • Actor Peter Mayhew, right, who played Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” movies, poses with a Chewbacca character, on May 27, 2005, during “Star Wars Weekends” at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The actor died Tuesday, his family announced on Twitter, Thursday, May 2, 2019. He was 74. (AP Photo/Walt Disney World, Mark Ashman)

  • Sound
    The gallery will resume inseconds
  • Actor Peter Mayhew (top), who played Chewbaca the Wookey in the first three films poses with Kenny Baker who plays R2D2 in both the older films as well as the new film “Episode 1 The Phantom Menace” as they arrive for the premier at London’s Leicester square 14 July 1999. (Photo by Mike Simmonds, AFP/Getty Images)

  • British actor Peter Mayhew attends the opening of the European Premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in central London on December 16, 2015. Ever since 1977, when “Star Wars” introduced the world to The Force, Jedi knights, Darth Vader, Wookiees and clever droids R2-D2 and C3PO, the sci-fi saga has built a devoted global fan base that spans the generations.
    (Photo by Justin Tallis, AFP/Getty Images)



LOS ANGELES — His family says Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” films, has died at age 74.

The actor died Tuesday, April 30, at his Texas home with his family at his side, the statement continued.

The 7-foot-2-inch British actor portrayed Chewbacca in five “Star Wars” films — the original trilogy, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” He also worked as a consultant on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” working with his successor in the role, Joonas Suotamo.

“For more than 30 years, Peter traveled all over the world spending time with his fans and friends,” according to a statement from his family. “Peter developed lifelong friendships with the other cast members and his fans while on the convention circuit touching the lives of millions.”

He worked on behalf of charities and advocacy groups such as Make-A-Wish and Wounded Warriors. 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.”

Mayhew was discovered by producer Charles H. Schneer while working as a hospital attendant in London, and cast in Ray Harryhausen’s “Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.” The next year, he was cast as Chewbacca, the 200-year-old Wookiee.

Mayhew was active on the “Star Wars” convention circuit and wrote two books, “Growing Up Giant” and “My Favorite Giant.”

On TV, he made guest appearances on “Donny & Marie,” “The Muppet Show” and “Glee.” He seldom played roles outside of Chewbacca, outside of “Dark Towers,” on which he played the Tall Knight and horror movie “The Terror,” in which he played the Mechanic.

There will be a memorial service for friends and family on June 29, with a memorial for fans in Los Angeles in early December at EmpireCon. He is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children.

The Associated Press, City News Service and Variety contributed to this report.