Peter Mayhew, Chewbacca Actor in ‘Star Wars,’ Dies at 74: Family Says

May 2, 2019 Updated: May 3, 2019

Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in “Star Wars,” has died, according to his family.

“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,” his family said in a tweet on May 3.

Mayhew was 74 years old.

“He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens,'” the family said of Mayhew. He also had a consultant position in”Star Wars: The Last Jedi” in order to “teach his successor.”

“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,” the statement went on to say. “But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.”

They also highlighted charities and other organizations that Mayhew had been involved with.

“As he grew older he continued to ‘soldier on’ as he put it and was completely in his element around his fans and supporters,” his family wrote. “He grew great strength from the energy of his family, friends and the fans he knew and loved.”

Regarding acting, he was typecast as Chewy for the rest of his life, mainly playing the “Star Wars” character in movies, commercials, games, and elsewhere.

In 2018, he told The Associated Press that he started an online fundraising campaign to help poor, hungry children in Venezuela, which has been racked by crisis in recent years under socialist President Nicolás Maduro’s regime.

His cause of death has not been revealed.

He leaves behind his wife and three children, said his family.

The actor’s death drew tributes from actors and other “Star Wars” cast members.

Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, said that Mayhew was “a big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile.”

 Elijah Wood, who played Frodo in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, tweeted: “So long, Chewie, may the force be with you.”

Notable Celebrity Deaths in 2019

John Singleton

director John Singleton portrait
John Singleton attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, Calif., on March 4, 2018. He died in late April after a stroke. (Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)

Nipsey Hussle

Nipsey Hussle and Lauren London in Los Angeles, Calif., on Feb. 7, 2019. The rapper was shot dead in late March. (Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images)

Luke Perry

Undated file photo of Luke Perry. (Newsmakers)

Peter Tork

Peter Tork of the Monkees passed away at 77 in February 2019. (Noel Vasquez/Getty Images)

Albert Finney

British actor Albert Finney died in February 2019 at the age of 82. (Lucy Nicholson/AFP/Getty Images)

James Ingram

Longtime R&B singer James Ingram died in late January. Quincy Jones, a collaborator of his, wrote, “With that soulful, whisky sounding voice, James Ingram was simply magical … every beautiful note that James sang pierced your essence and comfortably made itself at home.”

Singer James Ingram died at the age of 66 after a battle with brain cancer, according to reports on Jan. 29. (Getty Images)

Fatima Ali

“Top Chef” alum Fatima Ali died on Jan. 25, after a battle with terminal cancer. She was 29.

Former “Top Chef” contestant Bruce Kalman paid tribute to her: “It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer,” he wrote.

“Top Chef” star Fatima Ali died at the age of 29 after battling a form of bone cancer, said her family. (Instagram)

Carol Channing

broadway 3
Carol Channing, whose career spanned decades on Broadway and on television, died at age 97. Publicist B. Harlan Boll said Channing died of natural causes early in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Jan. 15, 2019. (Jim Cole/AP Photo, File)

Bob Einstein

Premiere Of HBO's "Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind" - Arrivals
Bob Einstein in Hollywood, Calif., on June 27, 2018. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Comedian and actor Bob Einstein died on Jan. 2 after a battle with cancer. He was 76.

Daryl Dragon

Daryl ‘The Captain’ Dragon beside his ex-wife, Toni Tennille, wearing his signature captain’s hat. (Hillel Italie/AP)

Daryl Dragon, or “Captain,” of pop group Captain and Tennille, died on Jan. 2 of renal failure.