×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew From ‘Star Wars’ Dies at 74

Star Wars” actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the original trilogy, died on Tuesday, his family announced on his Twitter. He was 74.

He died at his North Texas home surrounded by his family, read the Twitter statement.

Though he spoke entirely in growls, snarls, and the occasional roar, Chewbacca’s unwavering loyalty to Han Solo made him one of the most beloved characters in the franchise. Much more than just the hairy co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, Chewie’s dependability and trustworthiness helped the iconic Wookiee function as the series’ ultimate “wing man.”

He 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.

Peter Mayhew Star Wars
CREDIT: Uncredited/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Mayhew went on to appear in “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” “Revenge of the Sith,” “The Force Awakens” and “The Star Wars Holiday Special.” He was active on the “Star Wars” convention circuit and wrote two books, “Growing Up Giant” and “My Favorite Giant.”

His height was not due to gigantism, but he measured 7 feet 3 inches. George Lucas originally had his eye on bodybuilder David Prowse to play Chewbacca, but Prowse decided to play Darth Vader instead and Lucas went with the even-taller Mayhew.

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

Mayhew was asked by Australia’s BMag why Chewbacca didn’t get a medal at the end of the first “Star Wars” along with Solo and Skywalker. “I think it was one of two reasons,” he said. “One, they didn’t have enough money to buy me a medal. Or two, Carrie couldn’t reach my neck, and it was probably too expensive to build a little step so that I could step down or she could step up and give me the medal.”

He established the Peter Mayhew Foundation to provide funds for those in need, and suported the 501st Legion, Wounded Warriors, Make-a-Wish and other non-profits. Donations may be made to the Peter Mayhew Foundation.

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.

What Peter Mayhew Taught new Chewbacca JJoonas Suotamo:

More Film

  • Zach Galifianakis Jerry Seinfeld Netflix

    Film News Roundup: Zach Galifianakis' 'Between Two Ferns: The Movie' Coming to Netflix

    In today’s film news roundup, “Between Two Ferns: The Movie” is unveiled, “Friedkin Uncut” gets a fall release and Sony Classics buys “The Traitor” at Cannes. MOVIE RELEASES Netflix has set a Sept. 20 release date for Zach Galifianakis’ “Between Two Ferns: The Movie,” based on his 11-year-old talk show. Galifianakis made the announcement during [...]

  • Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for

    Romanian Crime-Thriller 'The Whistlers' Bought for North America

    Magnolia Pictures has bought North American rights to the Romanian crime thriller “The Whistlers” following its premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival. Written and directed by Corneliu Porumboiu, the film stars Vlad Ivanov, Catrinel Marlon, Rodica Lazar, Antonio Buil, Agustí Villaronga, Sabin Tambrea, Julieta Szonyi and George Pisterneanu. Magnolia is eyeing a theatrical [...]

  • Naomi Scott Talks Rebooting Princess Jasmine

    'Aladdin': Naomi Scott on Why Her Princess Jasmine Needed Nasim Pedrad's New Character

    Call Naomi Scott the queen of the reboot – or at least, the princess. The 26-year-old actress is taking on the role of Princess Jasmine in Disney’s live-action remake of “Aladdin,” but it’s not her first time jumping into a role that’s already been well-established. Audiences may recognize Scott from 2017’s “Power Rangers” update, where [...]

  • Moby Natalie Portman

    Moby Accuses Natalie Portman of Lying as the Two Spar Over Dating Claims

    In what’s become a he said/she said spat in multiple mediums, Moby, the elder statesman of electronic music, is now accusing actress Natalie Portman of lying and pleading to those on social media for his safety as “physical threats from complete strangers” emerge. To recap: this month, Moby released a new book, “Then It All [...]

  • A QUIET PLACE Emily Blunt

    'A Quiet Place' Sequel Moves Ahead Two Months to March 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved its sequel to “A Quiet Place” ahead by two months from May 15 to March 20, 2020. John Krasinski is returning to direct the still-untitled movie with Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds and Noah Jupe reprising their roles. Cillian Murphy is joining the cast. “A Quiet Place” grossed $340 million at the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content