Star Wars: Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew dies

Sad news for Star Wars fans this week, as Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew died.

Peter Mayhew, the English actor best known for portraying the Wookiee Chewbacca, died earlier this week from a heart attack at the age of 74.

Mayhew played the role in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, and Episode VII – The Force Awakens,

In The Force Awakens, Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, Solo: A Star Wars Story and the upcoming Episode XI – The Rise of Skywalker, the role has been played by Joonas Suotamo.

George Lucas discovered Mayhew during filming of A New Hope, the 7 foot 3 inch Mayhew was working as an orderly in the radiology department of a London hospital at the time.

Lucas based the design of the Wookiee species, of which Han Solo’s (Harrison Ford) copilot Chewbacca is the most well-known, on his shaggy dog Indiana (Ford played the archaeologist named after the dog, too).

Based on Solo, Chewbacca met Han in an underground dungeon. In the Expanded Universe/Legends novels, he lived for some time after Return of the Jedi, finally perishing while saving a planet from a horde of invaders known as the Yuuzhon Vong.

Chewie is the copilot of the Millennium Falcon, and is known for speaking in grunts and growls. He is also known for his incredible (almost canine level) loyalty to his friends, in addition to his short temper and enormous strength. He also doesn’t take kindly to cheaters, perhaps having ripped someone’s arm off while playing space chess.

In the Mel Brooks parody Spaceballs, Bill Pullman’s Han Solo-type character has a sidekick who is literally half man, half dog. Chewie is very popular as a dog costume during Halloween.

For more news and opinions about the events of a galaxy far, far away, see Dork Side of the Force, FanSided’s stop for everything from Anakin to Watto’s junkyard.