Peter Mayhew, Star Wars' Legendary Chewbacca, Has Died

LOS ANGELES , CA — At once unrecognizable and famous worldwide, Peter Mayhew, the actor who portrayed Chewbacca in the original trio of “Star Wars” films has died.

He was 74. Mayhew died Wednesday at his home in North Texas, according to his family. A public memorial service will be held in Los Angeles later this year. At 7-foot-2-inches, the British-born actor towered above most literally as well as figuratively. Few portrayals have left such an indelible impression in cinematic history – and without the benefit of discernable dialogue. Mayhew played Han Solo’s Wookie companion and copilot Chewbacca in the original trio of “Star Wars” films as well as “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”

“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.”

When he wasn’t helping the rebels save the galaxy from the empire, Mayhew was known for his charitable work. 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 also donated his time for charities and advocacy groups such as Make-A- Wish and Wounded Warriors.

His fans and friends shared their grief Thursday as news of his passing spread.

“He was the gentlest of giants — A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile and a loyal friend who I loved dearly — I’m grateful for the memories we shared, and I’m a better man for just having known him,” tweeted Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker.

A memorial service for friends and family will be held June 29. According to the family, his family will attend a memorial for Mayhew during the Empire Con LA “Star Wars” convention, set for Dec. 6-8 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. The memorial will feature a display of his personal effects and mementos.

He is survived by his wife Angie and three children.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to his foundation at petermayhewfoundation.org.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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