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There are very few franchises that have garnered such a massive following across the globe, even extending its reach for decades among generations.
Star Wars and its diverse group of lovable characters and stories have imprinted themselves onto the imaginations and hearts of fans even getting its own day, "May The 4th Be With You".
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Yet one character who has consistently won over the hearts of Star Wars fans has to be Chewbacca, the other half to the comical, badass Han Solo duo.
Sadly, Peter Mayhew, who played the memorable Wookie has passed away at the age of 74, at his Texas home on 30 April with his family by his side.
A British-US London born actor, Mayhew played Chewbacca in the original Star War trilogy, in episode three of the prequels and shared the role in one of the latest installments of the Star Wars anthology, The Force Awakens. Mayhew even consulted on the Last Jedi to help teach his successor.
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
Your Favorite Wookie
Lovable but formidable, Mayhew took up a role similar to that of Anthony Daniels as the charming C3PO or Dave Prowse as the vengeful sith, Darth Vader, becoming a symbol with of the franchise; a household name.
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Though he might not have been instantly recognizable to the Star Wars novice, he made his presence know both while playing Chewbacca and when the mask was off. His colleagues consistently praised Mayhew for his charm and good nature, with Mark Hamill even saying "He was the gentlest of giants," in a recent tribute to his friend and colleague.
The @WaltDisneyCo mourns the loss of our beloved #chewbacca portrayer, #PeterMayhew. Peter was larger than life in so many ways...a gentle giant playing a gentle giant. Rest in peace.— Robert Iger (@RobertIger) May 2, 2019
As beautifully stated in a letter to fans from Mayhew's family, "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. But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film."
I am so thankful that Mr. Mayhew found the strength to participate in this year’s Star Wars Celebration, even after he had to cancel a day due to health reasons. I was honored that my wife @gokatteego and I could have our picture taken with him. It means so much to us ❤️ pic.twitter.com/LGhzNGeARg— Keith Forche (@a_maizeing_blue) May 2, 2019
This was made evident with his foundation the Peter Mayhew Foundation, an organization dedicated to supporting people in crisis situations, providing food and supplies for the children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom.
"His kindness, generosity, and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice," his family said.
He was the gentlest of giants-A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I'm grateful for the memories we shared & I'm a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew#[email protected]/8xbq9HEWF2— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019
Fans, actors, and longtime Star Wars buddy and partner in crime, Harrison Ford, took the time to pay tribute to Mayhew, giving the world more insight into the type of positive force he was for the people around him, sharing conversations and treasured moments.
R.I.P ? pic.twitter.com/FWRgaOS0Tf— Joonas Suotamo (@JoonasSuotamo) May 2, 2019
Peter Mayhew will be greatly missed and we are honored that we had the opportunity to bear witness to such an iconic character in the Star Wars series and in film.
A memorial service for friends and family will be held on June 29. In early December, there will be a memorial in Los Angeles for fans.
What is your favorite Chewbacca memory?