LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Peter Mayhew, the actor behind the mask of Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, has died, his family announced Thursday. He was 74.
Mayhew passed away at his North Texas home on April 30 with his family by his side.READ MORE: Newport Beach, Long Beach And Other OC Communities Brace For Incoming High Tides And Potential Flooding
The 7-foot-2-inch British actor portrayed Chewbacca in the original “Star Wars” 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 is survived by his wife and three children.
Actor Mark Hamill called him a “big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile.”
Tonight, actor Mark Hamill who portrayed Luke Skywalker, spoke to CBSLA about his friend and co-star.
“It’s really hard to lose someone you love that much…what was so remarkable about him was his spirit and his kindness and his gentleness was so close to what a Wookiee is,” said Hamill.
Hamill said he is grateful for the memories he shared with Mayhew on and off the big screen.
“Peter was like that, he just radiated happiness and warmth, he was always up for a laugh and we hit it off immediately and stayed friends for 40 years.”
Harrison Ford, whose character was part of the legendary duo of Han Solo and Chewbacca, said of Mayhew, “We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience.”
Star Wars Creator George Lucas said, “Peter was a wonderful man. He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookie: big heart, gentle nature… and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend and I’m saddened by his passing.”MORE NEWS: 40 Cows Escape Meatpacking Plant In Pico Rivera; 1 Killed By Deputies After Charging Family
A memorial service for friends and family will be held June 29.