Peter Mayhew, the actor best known for bringing Chewbacca to life, has sadly passed away at the age of 74.
One of Mayhew’s last public appearances was last month at Star Wars Celebration Chicago, where he had photo ops and signed autographs. RIP Peter Mayhew – 1944 – 20His family has posted this moving message on his Twitter page:
George Lucas said of Mayhew’s passing:
“Peter was a wonderful man. He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature — and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend, and I’m saddened by his passing.”
The official statement from Star Wars, Lucasfilm and Kathleen Kennedy
Cast members and close friends, Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford also offered condolences to Mayhew’s family and spoke highly of their experiences with working with the man behind the Chewbacca mask and costume:
Harrison Ford expressed his condolences in a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter:
“Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. 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. Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together.
He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to it’s continued success and he was devoted to them. I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all. My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children.
Rest easy, my dear friend.”
Mark Hamill and Billy Dee Williams posted moving tributes on Twitter:
The Sequal Trilogy members who Peter also touched with kindness posted tributes on Social Media.
Jason Joiner paid a moving tribute on Facebook to Peter.
“We are so very sad to have to inform you all that Peter Mayhew who was Chewbacca in the Star Wars films passed away last night at his home in Texas. Peter was a real gentle giant and a very quiet, shy and beautiful person! A one-off!
The Chewbacca role was more Peter playing himself RIP Peter Mayhew – 1944 – 2019RIP Peter Mayhew – 1944 – 2019on-screen and the question of how much of Peter is Chewie and how much of Chewie is Peter will never be worked out as they really were one and the same. Peter loved playing Chewbacca as he could put away his shyness and become a roaring Wookiee when he needed to be. Meeting fans and especially the children that were into Star Wars and seeing the magic in their eyes when they got to meet Peter was something that drove him to attend public events and Comic Cons across the globe, which he continued to do up until last week.
As time went on Peter was finding it harder to take on the filming commitments of Chewbacca and even though you could never replace Peter he saw Chewie live on in the way that actor Ian Whyte played the character as Peter’s Stunt Double in The Force Awakens. Ian cared about how Peter portrayed Chewie and understood that Chewie was Peter and so he watched him and learned to become Peter as Chewie. Peter felt that the character was safe for future generations of Star Wars fans with Ian’s insight and care.
At 74 Peter lived to a great age for someone of his stature and this was down to the people that loved and helped him so much day to day as he grew older. Peter married his wife Angie in 1999 and from that time Peter has had a partner in life that he could share his amazing adventures and travel with. Later on Katie and Ryan, his children also helped to enable Peter to keep on the road and attend the events he so loved to visit.
In 2016 Peter set up The Peter Mayhew Foundation, a non-profit organisation devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering and the financial toll brought on by lives traumatic events. By providing its available resources directly to deserving children and adults in need, the foundation assists numerous charitable organisations in order to promote and boost their effectiveness and provide support where needed.
On a personal note, Peter was a wonderful and kind-hearted friend. When I was with him last month at The London Film and Comic Con I could see he was struggling and in some pain which was sad to see. However, I could also see the energy he received from being at the event and meeting all his fans! He was a very dear friend and ever since he attended his very first convention in the UK with us he has been very close to us all here.
Please take a look at the wonderful work Peter and his family are doing to help others.http://petermayhewfoundation.org If you feel like saying goodbye to Peter then please don’t buy flowers or gifts but instead make a difference and donate something and go here:http://petermayhewfoundation.org/make-a-donation.php The last roar of this Wookiee will echo around the galaxy forever! Goodbye old friend.
The Kurtz Joiner Archive
The team at MilnersBlog wish to send all our love and condolences to Angie and Peter’s three children at this sad time. He will be greatly missed and will always be fondly known as the mighty Chewbacca.
Image credit: @FarrawayAsh