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Peter Mayhew, Star Wars’s Original Chewbacca, Dies At 74

His family announced the news in a heartfelt statement

Peter Mayhew, the actor who originated the role of Chewbacca in Star Wars, has died, his family announced on Thursday (May 2). He was 74 years old.

"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," read the heartfelt statement, posted in full to his Twitter account.

At his peak height, the actor measured at 7 feet 3 inches, uniquely positioning him to play Han Solo's fur-covered best friend in the original Star Wars trilogy: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. He reprised the role in 2005's Revenge of the Sith and, as the statement notes, "fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall" in 2015's The Force Awakens. He served as a consultant for The Last Jedi in an effort to pass his character down to a new generation.

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On set of Star Wars: Episode VI — Return of the Jedi

But portraying the Wookiee won't be Mayhew's sole legacy, as he worked with a variety of non-profits over the course of his life, including Wounded Warriors and Make-a-Wish. He even established his own self-named foundation that supports "everything from individuals and families in crisis situations to food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom," his family's statement reads. "He not only provided funds but became personally involved with each individual, family and cause he supported."

The late actor is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children. The Peter Mayhew Foundation will continue to live on with his wife taking charge.

Read the full statement from Mayhew's family below: