Chewbacca is almost inarguably one of the best sidekicks in movie history. First appearing in Star Wars: A New Hope, the furry Wookiee travels along with the charismatic space smuggler Han Solo as the second in command aboard the Millennium Falcon.
One of the key features that stood out from Chewbacca was his height. And there were no special effects there: Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca, stood at seven foot three inches tall himself.
Mayhew took the character that could have been a horrifying beast and made him the lovable sidekick thanks to his emotive behaviors, perfect expression, and gentle demeanor. Mayhew manned the role of Chewbacca in all three of the original trilogy films, the final prequel film Revenge of the Sith, and the first sequel film, The Force Awakens, in 2015. Sadly, this would be the last time we saw the actor in his iconic role.
How did Peter Mayhew pass away?
At 74 years old, Peter Mayhew passed away in his home surrounded by his family on April 30, 2019.
According to an obituary posted by The Guardian, Mayhew’s cause of death was listed as a heart attack following many health problems the actor had dealt with through his later years of life.
Mayhew’s health issues led to him receiving spinal surgery in the summer of 2018 that was intended to improve his mobility. The actor had at one time been bound to a wheelchair, but according to his obituary he was able to fight past it, rehabilitating himself so could assume the role of Chewbacca once again in The Force Awakens.
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Earlier in 2013, it was reported by AP that the Star Wars star had undergone double knee replacements. In his later years of life, Mayhew was a victim of many height-related disorders that caused problems for his mobility.
Before his passing Mayhew launched a foundation that still helps those struggling today. The Peter Mayhew Foundation is devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering, and the “financial toll bought on by life’s traumatic events,” according to its website. Over the years, the foundation has helped out many people in difficult medical situations. In one well-publicized case in 2017, the foundation was able to help save the life of a woman who was in desperate need of a lung transplant.
While Chewbacca may still appear on screen in the future, there is only one man to wear the fur that truly made the character their own and that was Peter Mayhew.