A public memorial service will be held in Los Angeles later this year for actor Peter Mayhew, who left an indelible mark on the movie world with his portrayal of Han Solo’s Wookie companion and copilot Chewbacca in the original trio of “Star Wars” films.
According to his family, Mayhew died Wednesday night at his home in north Texas. He was 74 years old.
The 7-foot-2-inch British actor portrayed Chewbacca in five “Star Wars” films — the original trilogy, “Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” He also worked as a consultant on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” working with his successor in the role, Joonas Suotamo.
“For more than 30 years, Peter traveled all over the world spending time with his fans and friends,” according to a statement from his family. “Peter developed lifelong friendships with the other cast members and his fans while on the convention circuit touching the lives of millions.”
He worked on behalf of charities and advocacy groups such as Make-A-Wish and Wounded Warriors. He established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, supporting “everything from individuals and families in crisis situations to food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom.”
Fellow “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill hailed Mayhew as “the gentlest of giants.”
“A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly,” Hamill wrote on his Twitter page. “I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him.”
A memorial service for friends and family will be held June 29. According to the family, his family will attend a memorial for Mayhew during the Empire Con LA “Star Wars” convention, set for Dec. 6-8 at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. The memorial will feature a display of his personal effects and mementos.
He is survived by his wife Angie and three children.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to his foundation at petermayhewfoundation.org.