Peter Mayhew cause of death: How did Chewbacca star die?

Peter Mayhew
Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, died of a heart attack at 74. Pic credit: @ImageCollect/Admedia

After the family of Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew announced his passing yesterday, a spokesperson later confirmed his cause of death — that the 74-year-old died after suffering a heart attack.

Mayhew’s family had announced in a statement released on Thursday via the late actor’s Twitter account, saying that he died on Tuesday at his home in North Texas, with his family by his side. It was known that Mayhew had recently undergone spinal surgery.

The passing of the Chewbacca actor — as fans worldwide prepared to celebrate Star Wars Day on May 4 — came as a shock. Fans, celebrities and colleagues took to social media on Thursday to express their condolences and show support to the family of the late actor.

“Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca,” Han Solo actor Harrison Ford said in a statement. “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.”

“He was the gentlest of giants,” Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill tweeted. “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.”

Peter Mayhew, who stood 7 foot, 3 inches, portrayed the 200-year-old Chewbacca — a Wookie from the planet Kashyyyk — in the Star Wars film series. Chewie, as the character is affectionately known, was Han Solo’s co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon.

Mayhew made five appearances as Chewbacca, including in all the three films of the original trilogy — Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), and the Return of the Jedi (1983).

He also appeared in Revenge of the Sith (2005) from the prequel trilogy and The Force Awakens (2015) from the sequel trilogy.

In The Force Awakens, he shared the role of Chewie with the Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo. Suotamo then played Chewie alone in The Last Jedi (2017).

Mayhew was born in Barnes, Surrey, England in May 1944. Although it is widely claimed that his great height was due to a form of gigantism, Mayhew once denied it, saying, “I don’t have a big head.”

Film producer Charles H. Schneer noticed Mayhew in a newspaper photograph while he worked as an orderly at a hospital in London. His first film role was in Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) in which he played the role of the bronze Minoton.

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

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