Peter Mayhew, the gentle giant who played the original Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise, has died.
The British actor passed away on Tuesday (30Apr19) at his home in Texas, according to a family statement posted on Twitter. He was 74.
“The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away,” the statement reads. “He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.”
Paying tribute to his iconic role, the family statement continues: “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.”
Details of his death have not been revealed, but Peter underwent spinal surgery last year (18), and has battled a series of health issues in the past decade.
He took to Twitter in July (18), to update fans on his recovery following the operation and to explain his absence from social media.
“Sorry, I’ve been quiet as of late,” he wrote alongside a picture of himself lying in a hospital bed. “I’ve been planning & going through some spinal surgery to improve my mobility.
“It’s been a success & I’ll be spending the upcoming weeks recovering. A big thank you to the doctors, staff, my family & friends that have helped me through this.”
Mayhew pulled out of an appearance at the London Film & Comic Con last summer as a result of the surgery.
Meanwhile, back in 2015 he was hospitalised with pneumonia.
Peter, who stood 7ft 2ins tall, was working as a hospital attendant in London when film producer Charles H. Schneer cast him in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and a year later he was on the set of George Lucas’ first Star Wars movie as Han Solo’s wookie co-pilot Chewbacca.
His last role as Chewbacca was in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but he also helped train his successor, Joonas Suotamo, for 2017’s The Last Jedi.
He wrote two memoirs, Growing Up Giant and My Favorite Giant.
– Cover Media0