Peter Mayhew at the 2015 Florida SuperCon.
Peter William Mayhew
May 19, 1944
|Died||April 30, 2019 (aged 74)|
Boyd, Texas, U.S.
|Resting place||Azleland Memorial Park and Mausoleum|
Reno, Texas, U.S.
|Known for||Playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars franchise|
|Height||7 ft 2 in (2.18 m)|
Mary Angelique Cigainero
Peter William Mayhew (May 19, 1944 – April 30, 2019) was an English-American actor, best known for portraying Chewbacca in the Star Wars film series. He played the character in all of his live-action appearances from the 1977 original to 2015's The Force Awakens before his retirement from the role.
Peter Mayhew was born on May 19, 1944 in Barnes, Surrey. His height was a product of Marfan syndrome, not gigantism; "I don't have the big head", Mayhew said when asked about the cause of his height. His peak height was 7 feet 3 inches (2.21 m).
Mayhew gained his first acting job when the producers of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) discovered him from a photograph in a newspaper article about men with large feet, and cast him in the role of the minoton.
When casting the original Star Wars (1977), director George Lucas needed a tall actor who could fit the role of the hairy alien Chewbacca. He originally had in mind 6-foot-6-inch (1.98 m) bodybuilder David Prowse, but Prowse chose to play Darth Vader. This led Lucas to cast Mayhew, who was working as an orderly in the radiology department of King's College Hospital, London. He became aware of a casting call for Star Wars which was filming at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire. The 7-foot-3-inch (2.21 m) tall actor was immediately cast as Chewbacca after he stood up to greet Lucas. Mayhew continued working as an orderly—at Mayday Hospital (now Croydon University Hospital)—in between filming the original Star Wars trilogy.
Mayhew modelled his performance of Chewbacca after researching the behaviour of bears, monkeys and gorillas he saw at London Zoo. Lucas said Mayhew was "the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee: big heart, gentle nature and I learnt to always let him win". The character did not have any lines, the sounds he made being derived from sound recordings of animal noises.
Mayhew played Chewbacca in five Star Wars films—the original trilogy (Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi), Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He played the role in the 1978 television film Star Wars Holiday Special and in a 1980 appearance on The Muppet Show. He also recorded dialogue for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season 3 finale episode "Wookiee Hunt".
Mayhew played the role in commercials and hospital appearances for sick children, and made numerous appearances as Chewbacca outside the Star Wars films. Mayhew, appearing as Chewbacca, was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the MTV Film Awards 1997.
He also made other media appearances outside of playing Chewbacca. He appeared on NBC's Identity, where his identity was based on the fact that he played Chewbacca and was a frequent guest in the early days of Slice of SciFi.
While Mayhew portrayed Chewbacca in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he was not in Star Wars: The Last Jedi but was listed in the credits as "Chewbacca Consultant". Mayhew retired from playing Chewbacca due to health issues. Joonas Suotamo shared the portrayal of Chewbacca with Mayhew in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and then completely replaced him in subsequent Star Wars films.
Outside Star Wars, Mayhew appeared in the 1978 horror film Terror, directed by Norman J. Warren. In the English version of Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy, he provided the voice for Susha. He also appeared in Yesterday Was a Lie.
Mayhew wrote two books for younger audiences: Growing Up Giant, which explains that being different is a strength instead of a weakness, and the anti-bullying book for children My Favorite Giant.
Personal life and death
Peter Mayhew married Mary Angelique "Angie" Luker (née Cigainero; born October 12, 1954), a native of Texas, on August 7, 1999. The two lived in Boyd, Texas, and together they had three children: Katy, Sheril, and Kathleen. It was reported that his wife would head his namesake charity, the Peter Mayhew Foundation.
He became a naturalised citizen of the United States in 2005 at a ceremony in Arlington, Texas. In an interview with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram he joked that he did not get a medal at this ceremony either, a reference to the closing scene in Star Wars during which Luke Skywalker and Han Solo get medals, but Chewbacca does not. Mayhew noted in an MTV interview that although Chewbacca does not get a medal in the film, he does have the last line of dialogue, when he roars.
Mayhew underwent double knee replacement surgery in 2013, having been wheelchair-bound for the previous two years and still largely reliant on it at the time of filming The Force Awakens. In January 2015, Mayhew was briefly hospitalised near his home in Texas due to a bout of pneumonia. In July 2018, Mayhew announced via Twitter that he had successfully undergone unspecified spinal surgery to improve his mobility, and was recovering.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is dedicated to his memory.
|Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger||Minoton||Uncredited|||
|1980||The Empire Strikes Back||Chewbacca|||
|1982||Return of the Ewok||Video|||
|1983||Return of the Jedi|||
|1987||Star Tours||Short; uncredited|||
|2004||Comic Book: The Movie||Himself|||
|2005||Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith||Chewbacca|||
|2008||Yesterday Was a Lie||Dead Man|||
|2015||Star Wars: The Force Awakens||Chewbacca||Shared role with Joonas Suotamo|
|2016||Killer Ink||Uncle Clyde||Final film role|
|1977||Donny & Marie||Chewbacca||Guest|
|1978||Star Wars Holiday Special||TV special|
|1980||The Muppet Show||Episode: "The Stars of Star Wars"|
|1981||Dark Towers||The Tall Knight|||
|1985||The Kenny Everett Television Show||Various||Episode #3.3|
|2004||Dragon Ball GT: A Hero's Legacy||Susha (Gettō)||Voice; English dub; TV special|
|2011||Star Wars: The Clone Wars||Chewbacca||Episode: "Wookiee Hunt"; Special Thanks|
|Glee||Episode: "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"|
|2012||Breaking In||Peter Mayhew||Episode: "Episode XIII"|
- Liptak, Andrew (2 May 2019). "Peter Mayhew, the actor who brought Chewbacca to life, has died". The Verge. Retrieved 30 June 2019.
- Hayward, Anthony (3 May 2019). "Peter Mayhew obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
- Quinn, Karl (12 April 2014). "Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew in Melbourne for Supernova fan convention". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
- Vankin, Jonathan (20 January 2015). "'Star Wars' actor, Peter 'Chewbacca' Mayhew, 70, stricken with pneumonia—sends fans message from hospital". Inquisitr. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- "Peter Mayhew". PeterMayhew.com. Archived from the original on 10 May 2008.
- Clark, Mark (2015). Star Wars FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Trilogy That Changed the Movies. Applause Theatre & Cinema Books. ISBN 978-1-48036-018-1.
- Hutchinson, Sean (19 May 2015). "15 Chewbacca Facts in Honour of Peter Mayhew's Birthday". Mental Floss. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
- Weiss, Josh (2 May 2019). "Peter Mayhew, original Chewbacca actor in Star Wars, passes away at 74". SYFY Wire. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- "Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca, dies at age 74". ABC News Radio. 2 May 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- Hayward, Anthony (3 May 2019). "Peter Mayhew obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- "Peter Mayhew obituary". The Times. London. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 4 May 2019. (subscription required)
- Fortin, Jacey (2 May 2019). "Peter Mayhew, Actor Behind Chewbacca's Mask in Star Wars, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
- Child, Ben (8 April 2014). "Original Chewbacca actor set to return in Star Wars: Episode VII". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
- Itzkoff, David (17 February 2011). "Remaking Wookiee: Chewbacca Becomes a Character on 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 May 2011.
- Chilton, Martin (13 December 2011). "Chewbacca film on Hollywood Black List". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Brooks, Summer (26 October 2005). "Slice of SciFi #30: Interview with Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca, 'Star Wars')". Slice of SciFi. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- "Star Wars: The Last Jedi—full credits". IMDb. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
- Hawkes, Rebecca (6 January 2016). "The 'secret' Chewbacca: meet the 6'11" basketball star who shared the role with Peter Mayhew in Star Wars: The Force Awakens". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
- Orange, B. Alan (6 January 2016). "Meet The New Chewbacca Actor in Star Wars: The Force Awakens". MovieWeb. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- Wood, Chris (27 February 2010). "Terror (1978)". British Horror Films. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Boucher, Geoff; Petski, Denise; Pedersen, Erik (2 May 2019). "Peter Mayhew Dies: 'Star Wars' Chewbacca Actor Was 74". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Walter, Joseph (22 July 2018). "20 Crazy Things Only True Fans Know About Dragon Ball GT". ScreenRant. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Chilton, Martin (4 May 2011). "Ewoks, sex dolls and comedy: what happened to the Star Wars cast". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
- Mayhew, Peter; Mayhew, Angie (19 November 2013). My Favorite Giant. One Mans Posse Production. ISBN 978-1-62098-826-8.
- Goldman, Carrie (22 April 2011). "My Favorite Giant by Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)". ChicagoNow. Archived from the original on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- Bushby, Helen (3 May 2019). "How Peter Mayhew became Chewbacca". BBC.
- "Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew's Wife Angelique Mayhew". DailyEntertainmentNews.com. 2 May 2019. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
- Paul, Kari; Convery, Stephanie (2 May 2019). "Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew dies aged 74". The Guardian.
- Malone, Megan (8 February 2012). "Chewbacca Making Dallas-Area Appearances". nbcdfw.com. KXAS-TV. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- "Star Wars actor who played Chewbacca to become American citizen". The Canadian Press. 12 October 2005. p. 16.
- "Chewbacca actor to become an American". Today. 14 October 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- "'Star Wars' actor, others pledge their allegiance". Fort Worth Star-Telegram. 18 October 2005. p. B2.
- "Wookie knee repair: 'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hopes to walk again after Fort Worth surgery". The Dallas Morning News. 11 September 2013. Archived from the original on 6 April 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- Breznican, Anthony (2 May 2019). "Peter Mayhew remembered: How he said goodbye to playing Chewbacca". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 May 2019.
- Sacks, Ethan (19 January 2015). "'Star Wars' star Peter Mayhew hospitalized for pneumonia: report". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on 7 April 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- Parker, Ryan (19 January 2015). "'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew hospitalized with pneumonia". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 10 April 2015. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- Parker, Ryan (24 July 2018). "'Star Wars': Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Undergoes Spinal Surgery". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
- Zarrell, Matt; Rothman, Michael (2 May 2019). "'Star Wars' actor Peter Mayhew dies at the age of 74, family says". ABC News. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
- "Return of the Ewok (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Thomas, Bob (25 May 1987). "Star Wars celebrates 10th anniversary today". The Palm Beach Post. pp. 4E. Retrieved 3 May 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
- Holmes, Adam. "Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew Is Dead At 74". CinemaBlend. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Saperstein, Pat; Stedman, Alex (2 May 2019). "Chewbacca Actor Peter Mayhew From 'Star Wars' Dies at 74". Variety. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Alter, Ethan (16 November 2018). "'The Star Wars Holiday Special' at 40: How a landmark TV bomb was born". Yahoo Entertainment. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Murray, Noel (12 February 2015). "When the Muppets met Star Wars". The Dissolve. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- "Peter Mayhew dead at 74 after decades-long run playing Chewbacca in Star Wars films". ABC7 Chicago. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
- Itzkoff, Dave (17 February 2011). "Remaking Wookiee: Chewbacca Becomes a Character on 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'". ArtsBeat. Retrieved 3 May 2019.