Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew dies

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10:  Actor Peter Mayhew arrives at the premiere of Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' at the El Capitan Theatre on May 10, 2018 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - MAY 10: Actor Peter Mayhew arrives at the premiere of Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's 'Solo: A Star Wars Story' at the El Capitan Theatre on May 10, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the original trilogy, has died aged 74.

He died on Tuesday at his North Texas home surrounded by loved ones, according to a family statement posted on Twitter.

Mayhew was discovered by producer Charles H. Schneer while working as a hospital attendant in London and cast in Ray Harryhausen’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.
The next year, he was cast as Chewbacca, the 200-year-old Wookiee.

Mayhew went on to appear in The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Revenge of the Sith, The Force Awakens and The Star Wars Holiday Special.

He was active on the Star Wars convention circuit and wrote two books, Growing Up Giant and My Favorite Giant.

His height was not due to gigantism but he measured 2.21 metres at his highest.

George Lucas originally had his eye on bodybuilder George Prowse but Prowse decided to play Darth Vader instead and Lucas went with the even taller Mayhew.

On TV, he made guest appearances on Donny & Marie, The Muppet Show and Glee.

He seldom played roles outside of Chewbacca, outside of Dark Towers, on which he played the Tall Knight and horror movie The Terror, in which he played the Mechanic.

There will be a memorial service for friends and family on June 29, with a memorial for fans in Los Angeles in early December at EmpireCon.

Mayhew is survived by wife Angie and three children.