Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Has Died Aged 74

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, has died aged 74 at his home in the US, according to his family.

Mayhew family posted the sad news on Twitter this morning.

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According to the post, which was shown on Peter Mayhew's official Twitter account, "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."

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While no official cause of death has been revealed, Mayhew had last year spoken out about having to undergo spinal surgery to improve his mobility and had been recovering from the operation.

The actor, who stood at 2.1 metres tall, portrayed Chewbacca in the original 'Star Wars' in 1977, and went on to reprise the role in 'The Empire Strikes Back', 'Return of the Jedi', and 'Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith'.

He then went on to share the role with Joonas Suotamo for 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens', before Suotamo took over the iconic character for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi', 'Solo: A Star Wars Story', and the forthcoming 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.'

"Chewbacca is one of the most iconic characters in the history of film, and Peter's development and portrayal of this beloved Wookiee has spread so much joy around the globe," Suotamo wrote after taking on Mayhew's role.

"Peter's guidance and kindness have been invaluable gifts which warmed my spirit and prepared me for this journey. I aspire to make Peter proud and bring Star Wars fans the Chewie they know and love," he added.

Peter Mayhew and Joonas Suotamo at the world premiere of 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' in 2017. Image: Getty

In 2015, Mayhew spoke to PEOPLE about his joy over returning to the role for 'The Force Awakens,' saying, “It’s been really, really fabulous.”

Mayhew's passing follows the death of his 'Star Wars' co-star Carrie Fisher, who passed away on 27 December 2016 after a medical emergency on a flight. The pair first met on set in 1977, with Mayhew saying at the time of her sudden death: "She was a princess," he recalled.

"She can adapt to almost any situation and she did."

Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew at Comic-Con International 2015 at the San Diego Convention Centre. Image: Getty

Joined by his wife Angie at the time of Fisher's memorial, Angie shared an anecdote about being grilled by the late actress during the early days, so that Carrie could make sure she was "good enough" to date Mayhew.

"Carrie had a habit," Angie Mayhew explained. "She would walk over to Peter. She'd crawl up in his lap, and they had a thing. It wasn't unusual. It was normal for them."

"Peter introduced me as his wife. She looked at me, 'What was your name again?' 'Hi, Carrie. I'm Angie!' I went through a grilling, a grilling from the Princess to see if I could pass muster because she was not at all sure if my intentions were pure toward Peter."

Carrie Fisher and Peter Mayhew in costume on November 21, 1983. Image: Getty

A memorial service for the star is set to be held for friends and family on June 29, with a fan memorial reportedly being in Los Angeles in December at EmpireCon.

He is survived by his wife, Angelique Mayhew, and their three children.

More to come. 

Image: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment/AP