Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in Star Wars has died aged 74.
The 7ft 3ins actor was adored by fans for his portrayal of the huge furry alien in the 1977 film and its many sequels
The British star’s family have now reavealed that he passed away at his North Texas home on April 30.
In a statement posted to Peter Mayhew’s official Twitter account, his relatives wrote: “The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has pa ssed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home.”
It continued: “Peter was a real gentle giant and a very quiet, shy and beautiful person! A one-off! The Chewbacca role was more Peter playing himself on screen and the question of how much of Peter is Chewie and how much of Chewie is Peter will never be worked out as they really were one and the same.
“Peter loved playing Chewbacca as he could put away his shyness and become a roaring Wookiee when he needed to be. Meeting fans and especially the children that were into Star Wars and seeing the magic in their eyes when they got to meet Peter was something that drove him to attend public events and Comic Cons, which he continued to do up until last week.
“As time went on Peter was finding it harder to take on the filming commitments of Chewbacca and even though you could never replace Peter he saw Chewie live in the way that actor Ian Whyte played the character as Peter’s Stunt Double in The Force Awakens. Ian cared about how Peter portrayed Chewie and understood that Chewie was Peter and so he watched him and learned to become Peter as Chewie. Peter felt that the character was safe for future generations of Star Wars fans with Ian’s insight and care.”
The 7ft 3in British actor, from Barnes in Surrey, starred as the iconic Wookiee in five Star Wars films.
Peter was born with Marfan syndrome – a connective tissue disease that caused his immense height.
He got a double knee replacement in 2013 and was forced to step down as Chewie in the last two Star Wars films – The Last Jedi and Solo – due to health concerns but was credited as a “Chewbacca Consultant”
Mayhew is survived by his wife Angie and three children.
The letter mentions that a memorial service for friends and family will be held on June 29, while a memorial will be set up in Los Angeles in early December for fans to visit at EmpireConLA. Mayhew’s family has asked, in lieu of gifts and/or flowers, for donations to be made to the Peter Mayhew Foundation.