The original Star Wars cast, assembled for the 1977 movie, has lost another original member with the loss of Peter Mayhew, who played the role of Chewbacca, Hans Solo’s loyal, hairy sidekick and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon.
The actor passed away in Texas at the age of 74. Mayhew, whose height was recorded at 7’3″, had recently undergone spinal surgery in an effort to help control his mobility.
Now, Mark Hamill, AKA Luke Skywalker, has posted an emotional farewell to his reel-life co-star and real-life pal.
“He was the gentlest of giants,” Hamill wrote of Mayhew. “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.”
Mayhew was cast, in part, because of his towering height. Director George Lucas wanted someone who’d be taller than imposing Darth Vader (David Prowse).
In a statement, Harrison Ford said: “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 its 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.”
Other cast members from Star Wars have passed away over the years including Peter Cushing (Grand Moff Tarkin) in 1994; Alec Guinness (Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi), who died in 2000; Kenny Baker (R2D2) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia Organa) both in 2016.
Soap Hub extends deepest sympathies to Mayhew’s family, friends, and fans at this time.
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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
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