In recent years, the 7-foot-3 actor had height-related physical disorders, including respiratory and mobility problems. He often had to use scooters and wheelchairs to get around.
As Chewbacca, known to his friends as Chewie, Mr. Mayhew was a fierce warrior with a soft heart, a loyal sidekick to Harrison Ford’s Han Solo and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon.
Mr. Mayhew was working as a hospital orderly in London and had minor roles in other films when he came to the attention of director George Lucas, who was filming the original “Star Wars” in England. Lucas was looking for an exceptionally tall actor to play the part of Chewbacca and who would appear in a costume made of woven mohair and yak hair.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Mr. Mayhew told the Biloxi Sun Herald of Mississippi in 2008. “They were looking for someone big for a role in ‘Star Wars.’ At the time, my name got put forward, everything seemed to click, and three or four weeks later, we were filming.”
The film was released in 1977. Mr. Mayhew went on to appear as the Wookiee in the two sequels that are part of the original “Star Wars” trilogy, “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983). He reprised his role as Chewbacca in the 2005 prequel “Revenge of the Sith” and shared the part in 2015’s “The Force Awakens” with actor Joonas Suotamo, who took over the role in subsequent films.
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Suotamo, a Finnish former basketball player, told the Associated Press last year that Mr. Mayhew put him through “Wookiee boot camp” before he played the role in “Solo.”
The character of Chewbacca, who is more than 200 years old, has been compared to an ape, a bear and Bigfoot. Mr. Mayhew defined the character and became famous without speaking a word or even making a sound — Chewbacca’s famous roar was the creation of sound designers, using the calls of wild animals.
He wore a bandoleer with ammunition for his laser crossbow, which was considered by many fans to be one of the hokier elements in the original “Star Wars,” something out of a more low-budget sci-fi offering.
The films themselves seemed to acknowledge this.
“Will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?” Carrie Fisher, as Princess Leia, says in the first movie. It was one of the big laugh lines of the film. In “The Empire Strikes Back,” Ford comically called Chewbacca, his loyal lieutenant, a “fuzzball.”
But Chewie would become as enduring an element of the Star Wars galaxy as any other character. His roar became famous.
“Though if you look at his shape, he is a teddy bear,” Mr. Mayhew said in 2008. “And I think everybody has had a teddy bear at some point.”
Peter Mayhew was born May 19, 1944, in a borough of London. His father was a police officer.
After Star Wars, Mr. Mayhew appeared in other films and television shows, and he made frequent appearances in commercials, at Star Wars events and at conventions of science-fiction fans. He would meet his wife, Angie Luker, at one such convention, and they were married in 1999. Survivors include her and three children.
Mr. Mayhew became a U.S. citizen in 2005 and settled in his wife’s home state of Texas.
He is the third major member of the original cast to die in recent years. Fisher and R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker died in 2016.
Mr. Mayhew was involved in fundraising for several charities and established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, which aims to support people struggling to recover after traumatic personal events.
At gatherings of Star Wars fans, Mr. Mayhew said, he was often asked, “Can you do the roar? I look at them and go, ‘No, because it was a bear’s roar.’ ”
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