Peter Mayhew, best known for originating the role of Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise, has passed away. This news comes from his Facebook page, which he shared with his wife Angie. The circumstances of his death, which occurred on Tuesday, April 30, are unknown at this time. He was 74.
Mayhew’s performance as Chewbacca has been praised for giving life to a character without saying a word, using his size and animated movements to interact with his fellow actors. He was last seen as Chewbacca in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and acted as consultant for his successor in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. His retirement from the role came on the heels of some health trouble the actor was experiencing, namely knee and spinal surgeries, as well as pneumonia.
When not donning the famous Chewbacca costume, he ran the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which his family is encouraging fans to donate to in order to continue his humanitarian efforts. The non-profit is focused on alleviating personal and financial stress from those who have experienced traumatic events. Most recently, the foundation provided aid to the children of Venezuela.
A private memorial has been set for June 29, with a public memorial for fans to be held in December at EmpireConLA.