Original ‘Chewbacca’ actor Peter Mayhew dies at 74

LOS ANGELES -- Peter Mayhew, the original "Chewbacca" in the beloved "Star Wars" film series, has died at age 74, his family announced Thursday.

Mayhew died April 30 at his home in North Texas, according to the announcement. Mayhew was best known for his role as Chewbacca, which he played in each film of the original trilogy, Episode Three of the prequels and in the newest films.

"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," the family said in a letter posted online. "But to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film."

The letter goes on to list Mayhew's many friendships with cast members, connections with fans and charitable works.

He is survived by his wife Angie and three kids. A memorial for fans will be planned for early December in Los Angeles after a personal service for close friends and family, the letter said.

The family asked fans to contribute to Mayhew's foundation in lieu of gifts.

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