The English-American actor died in his his North Texas home on April 30. Mayhew's family announced the actor's death on social media.
Mayhew played the iconic character of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars movie, 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, 1983's Return of the Jedi, 2005's Revenge of the Sith, and 2015's The Force Awakens. Mayhew also provided consulting services on 2017's The Last Jedi.
"He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth. But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film," Mayhew's family said in a statement. "He is survived by his wife Angie and three children. His kindness, generosity and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice."
The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away. He left us the evening of April 30, 2019 with his family by his side in his North Texas home. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u— Peter Mayhew (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
Following the news of Mayhew's death, many, including Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill, took to social media to pay their respects.
"Peter was a wonderful man," George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, said in a statement, per Deadline. "He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature — and I learned to always let him win. He was a good friend, and I’m saddened by his passing." Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy also commented on the death of Mayhew. "We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing," Kennedy said. "Since 1976, Peter’s iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been absolutely integral to the character’s success, and to the Star Wars saga itself. When I first met Peter during The Force Awakens, I was immediately impressed by his kind and gentle nature. Peter was brilliantly able to express his personality through his skillful use of gesture, posture and eyes. We all love Chewie, and have Peter to thank for that enduring memory."
"Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character," Mayhew's Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford said, per The Hollywood Reporter. "These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience."
Ford, who famously played Han Solo, continued: "Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together. He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to its continued success and he was devoted to them. I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all. My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend…. "
He was 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-I'm grateful for the memories we shared & I'm a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete #RIPPeterMayhew #Heartbroken @TheWookieeRoars pic.twitter.com/8xbq9HEWF2— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) May 2, 2019
Sad to hear of Peter Mayhew's passing. So long, Chewie, may the force be with you.— Elijah Wood (@elijahwood) May 2, 2019
We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Peter Mayhew. He was our beloved companion in a galaxy far, far, away. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, and fans. The force will be with you always, Peter.— San Diego Comic-Con (@Comic_Con) May 2, 2019
RIP Peter Mayhew. To create a beloved character with warmth and humor is a testament to any actor’s spirit. To do it under a half ton of yak hair takes a true legend. ❤️❤️— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) May 3, 2019
"We are deeply saddened today by the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing. Since 1976, Peter’s iconic portrayal of the loyal, lovable Chewbacca has been absolutely integral to the character’s success, and to the Star Wars saga itself."-Kathleen Kennedy.— Star Wars (@starwars) May 3, 2019
More: https://t.co/iGfk9XRzKa pic.twitter.com/5edrPrEuRS
Best co-pilot in the galaxy. Thank you for all that you’ve given us, Peter Mayhew. pic.twitter.com/xOKOBPjneN— The Academy (@TheAcademy) May 3, 2019
Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), 1980. RIP Peter and Carrie. pic.twitter.com/23YiLxpC6F— Eric Alper 🎧 (@ThatEricAlper) May 3, 2019