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Star Wars' 'Gentlest of Giants,' Peter Mayhew, Dies at 74

Actor played Chewbacca in original trilogy
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted May 2, 2019 7:50 PM CDT
Peter Mayhew in December 2015.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)

(Newser) – Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died at 74, Variety reports. His family announced Mayhew's death at his home in north Texas on Twitter. "He was the gentlest of giants," co-star Mark Hamill tweeted, saying Mayhew "never failed to make me smile." Mayhew's Star Wars roles spanned 1977 through 2015, per the BBC. "He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca," his family said, "and it showed in every frame."

Mayhew was a hospital attendant in London, where he was born, when a producer spotted him and cast him in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. He won the role of Chewbacca, the 200-year-old Wookiee, the next year, per Variety. "The Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film," his family said. The 7-foot-2 actor is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children. (Peter Mayhew's cane/lightsaber worried the TSA.)

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