A Legend Lost – Peter Mayhew Dies at 74

Farewell, Chewie. News broke today that the original actor who played everyone’s favorite Wookie passed away on April 30th. Peter Mayhew was 74 and died at his Texas home surrounded by family. Also an author, Mayhew was of course best known for playing rebel hero Chewbacca, famed sidekick of Han Solo. The 7’2″ actor filled a unique niche during filming of the original Star Wars movie in 1976 donning what looked to many then as a Bigfoot-esque costume who would be fighting for the good guys.



I first met Mayhew back in 2002 at Star Wars Celebration II in Indianapolis, Indiana. Our conversation was of course minimal and fleeting as droves of fans lined up to meet the man inside the Chewie suit. As always, time was of the essence and we had to move along quickly after having him sign whatever it was each fan presented him with. I still remember the uncanny size of that man’s hands and how gentle of a handshake he offered.  He was a soft-spoken soul who I was elated to have the privilege of meeting.

In addition to playing Chewbacca in the original trilogy and again in Revenge of the Sith, he also wrote two books, did voice work for cartoons, made countless convention appearances and worked with sequel trilogy actor Joonas Suotamo to prep the rookie actor in his duties to take over the role of Chewie for a new generation.  Mayhew most recently appeared at Star Wars Celebration Chicago last month and was due to appear at Fan Expo Dallas this weekend.

In closing, I find a beautiful irony in Mayhew’s unintended final message to his fans.  On April 22nd, he tweeted a photo of the Millennium Falcon flying toward earth stating, “Happy Earth Day.  Wonderful day outside. Wild flowers in bloom.  Take some time to enjoy it.  #EarthDay2019”

Indeed, Peter.  Indeed.

Photo courtesy of Daily Mail UK

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