“Star Wars” actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the first three movies, has died at his North Texas home in Boyd. He was 74.
Mayhew, who stood at 7 feet, 3 inches, was working as a hospital orderly when cast as the beloved Wookiee in “Star Wars,” “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” “Revenge of the Sith,” “The Force Awakens” and “The Star Wars Holiday Special.”
We sat down Friday morning to talk about Mayhew's legacy:
He wrote two books, “Growing Up Giant” and “My Favorite Giant,” and was, by all accounts, an almost unbelievably nice guy.
He established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which was “devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering, and the financial toll brought on by life's traumatic events,” according to its website.
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Mayhew was something of a homebody but was a known quantity on the Texas fan circuit. In 2016, he invited a Houston fan named Daniel Fleetwood, who had spindle cell sarcoma, to his home. After Fleetwood died in November of that year, he extended the invite to Fleetwood's wife and daughter. He was also a regular at Dallas comic conventions and fan events. He once attended a screening of "Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace" in Plano, according to the Dallas Morning News.
Born in England, Mayhew became an American citizen in an Arlington naturalization ceremony in 2005, according to the Morning News. He is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children.
Out of costume, Mayhew was beloved by fans for his down-to-earth nature and was an enthusiastic participant in Star Wars fandom. In costume, all he really had to do, as George Lucas put it, was stand up, but there was something about his portrayal Chewbacca that tugged at the heartstrings. Chewie had a cool look (that bandolier strap!) and a cooler gun (that blaster crossbow!). He was also a perfect co-pilot, first mate and friend to Han Solo. And when the cool guy thinks you are cool, you are automatically cool. Chewie was cool.
A memorial for fans is being set up at EmpireCon in Los Angeles in December.
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