Peter Mayhew dies

Chewbacca actor was 74

by Jennie Kermode

Peter Mayhew
Peter Mayhew Photo: Randy Chiu

Star Wars icon Peter Mayhew passed away on Tuesday at the age of 74, his family has revealed. Though he stood tall at seven feet three inches, the impression he made as wookiee bounty hunter Chewbacca was as much a testament to his acting power, with few actors managing to convey so much when almost completely hidden by fur. He was particularly popular with children and had legions of fans all around the world.

Last night, Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker in the films, led the tributes to his co-star. Tweeting pictures of the pair of them, he wrote: "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 #Heartbroken @TheWookieeRoars"

Alongside his work in the Star Wars films, Mayhew delivered a memorable - though uncredited - turn in Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger. He appeared in two other genre films, Terror and Yesterday Was A Lie.

As loyal to his younger fans as they were to him, the actor made appearances in support of children's charities throughout his life and wrote two children's books on the subject of bullying and how it can be good to be different.

In later life, Mayhew's height caused him problems with his knees and spine but he was famous for remaining in good spirits and remained close to some of his Star Wars co-stars. He died at home in North Texas with his family at his bedside, and is survived by his wife Angie and three children.

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