We were very sad to hear the news of Peter Mayhew’s passing on this past Tuesday. A true member of Star Wars royalty, the Chewbacca actor spent his life after the movies with his fans. He spent over 30 years on the convention circuit giving fans all over the world to meet the lovable Wookiee himself. We were shocked by his death as we saw him in the autograph area just weeks ago in Chicago at Star Wars Celebration and he was set to appear in Dallas this very weekend.
Jake shares his memories of meeting Peter throughout the last 20 years:
I had the pleasure of meeting Peter many times over the years and every time I always walked away with a unique and memorable experience. The first time was when The Seattle Star Wars Society hosted a party at a dance club called Polyesters not far from the Space Needle. They rented out the club and Peter sat at with a steady flow of pints and chatted with guests and signed autographs. I remember when we shook hands, his fingers wrapped completely around my hand darn near twice.
The next time was not long after when in 2000, Wizards of the Coast debuted their new roleplay game and premiered it at the Planet Hollywood in downtown Seattle. A newly famous Jake Lloyd joined Peter for autographs and photos.
It would be years before we would chat again and this time was when he came to Emerald City Comic in 2017. He shared with me off the record that even though shooting had wrapped on The Last Jedi, he hadn’t filmed a single frame, which much later we would find out that his successor had fully adopted the role.
And finally, in what was a complete honor, I sat down with Peter on stage at last year’s Washington Stat Toy and Geek Fest (now Washington State Summer Con) and for an hour interviewed Peter about his career, Wookiee collection, and life in general.
A good chunk of that interview was aired on TOY RUN: The Star Wars Action Figure Cast Episode 117.
Clearly, I have always had an affinity for the character as here I am in college while performing in Walt Disney World in the mid-’90s.
Thank you Peter for all of the memories you gave us all both in movies and in real life.
The press release on his passing and how you can support his foundation is as follows:
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.
Peter was the man behind the mask of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, episode 3 of the prequels, and the New Trilogy. He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also consulted on The Last Jedi in an attempt to teach his successor. 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. But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.
The relationships that began then grew into the friends and family that he would love for decades to come. As the films released and became more well-known he had his eyes opened to the possibilities of what he could achieve with his role in the Star Wars universe. For more than 30 years Peter traveled all over the world spending time with his fans and friends. Peter developed lifelong friendships with the other cast members and his fans while on the convention circuit touching the lives of millions. As he realized over the years the impact he could have, he became heavily involved with the 501st legion, Wounded Warriors, Make-a-Wish, and other non-profit organizations.
To this end, he established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, supporting everything from individuals and families in crisis situations to food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom. He not only provided funds but became personally involved with each individual, family and cause he supported.
As he grew older he continued to “soldier on” as he put it and was completely in his element around his fans and supporters. He grew great strength from the energy of his family, friends and the fans he knew and loved.
He is survived by his wife Angie and three children. His kindness, generosity and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice.
There will be a memorial service for friends and family held on June 29th and in early December in Los Angeles there will be a memorial for fans set up with his family in attendance, personal effects, and collection at EmpireConLA.
For additional information, information on the memorials or to offer condolences email ryan@ReelAppearances.com
Rather than gifts and flowers the family asks that you consider donating to the foundation so that they can continue his efforts to help the community. You can donate at http://petermayhewfoundation.org/make-a-donation.php