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Actor who played Chewbacca in ‘Star Wars’ franchise dies, family says

FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2015, file photo, Peter Mayhew arrives at the world premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. The actor, who plays Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, agreed to meet “Chewbacca mom” Candace Parker in a letter read by James Corden on the “Late Late Show.” (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
FILE - In this Dec. 14, 2015, file photo, Peter Mayhew arrives at the world premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. The actor, who plays Chewbacca in the Star Wars films, agreed to meet “Chewbacca mom” Candace Parker in a letter read by James Corden on the “Late Late Show.” (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File) AP

Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca in most of the “Star Wars” films, died April 30, according to his family.

“The family of Peter Mayhew, with deep love and sadness, regrets to share the news that Peter has passed away,” said a Facebook post. “He left us the evening of April 30, 2019, with his family by his side in his North Texas home.”

Mayhew, 74, played the Wookiee in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and “Revenge of the Sith,” the 2005 finale of the ensuing prequels, IMDB reported.

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FILE - This Dec. 16, 2015 file photo shows Peter Mayhew, left, and Harrison Ford at the European premiere of the film ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens ‘ in London. Mayhew, who played the rugged, beloved and furry Wookiee Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” films, has died. Mayhew’s family said in a statement that he died at his home in Texas on April 30. He was 74. No cause was given. (Photo by Jonathan Short/Invision/AP, File) Jonathan Short AP

The 7-foot-3 Mayhew was the sidekick to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, the Associated Press reported.

His family said on Facebook that he was able to return to the role for “The Force Awakens,” after being “wheel-chair bound.” He served as a consultant on “The Last Jedi” when Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo took over the role.

Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the franchise, mourned Mayew on Twitter.

“He was the gentlest of giants-A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete,” Hamill tweeted.

A memorial service for friends and family will be held on June 29, but fans will get a chance to pay tribute to the man who played “Chewie,” in December at a Los Angeles memorial at EmpireConLA, according to the family’s post.

He is survived by his wife Angie and three children, according to the post.

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FILE - In this Oct. 5, 1978 file photo, actors featured in the “Star Wars” movie, from left, Harrison Ford who played Han Solo, Anthony Daniels who played the robot C3P0, Carrie Fisher who played the princess, and Peter Mayhew who played the Wookie, Chewbacca, are shown during a break from the filming of a television special presentation in Los Angeles. Mayhew, who played the rugged, beloved and furry Wookiee Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” films, has died. Mayhew’s family said in a statement that he died at his home in Texas on April 30. He was 74. No cause was given. (AP Photo, File) AP

Mayhew is the latest member of the original core cast of “Star Wars” actors who have died, along with Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2), who both passed away in 2016.

Mayhew was discovered while working as an attendant at a London hospital, according to IMBD.

“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’s Facebook post said. “But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.”

One of the few things Mayhew did not bring to the role was Chewbacca’s voice, which was created by the sound designer of the film series, according to The Atlantic.

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