There is a sad reality that comes with being a Star Wars fan old enough to have seen the original Star Wars in theaters in 1977. Namely, we must suffer the inevitable loss of our icons and heroes. First we lost our princess with Carrie Fisher’s untimely passing a few years ago. Now, with heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of our mighty Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew.
I’m sure you, like I have, have read the countless eulogies and tributes to Peter Mayhew that have flooded the Internet since his passing yesterday. There have perhaps been none more heartfelt than those of Mayhew’s long-time screen partner, Harrison Ford. Ford remembered his friend of three decades in this touching memorial he provided to The Hollywood Reporter:
Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character. These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience. Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together. He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to its continued success and he was devoted to them. I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all. My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend.”
The World Remembers Peter Mayhew
Fans of course remember Mayhew best for his more than forty-year portrayal of the wookiee Chewbacca, from Star Wars all the way through to The Force Awakens. NBC compiled a wonderful video (above) of some of Mayhew’s best moments as our favorite fuzz ball and walking carpet. Few actors possess the talent to elicit an emotional response from fans without ever saying a single word. Peter Mayhew was one of those actors.
Peter Mayhew left an indelible mark on the science-fiction genre, and Star Wars in particular. Those of us writing about his passing continue to find difficulty penning words adequate enough to honor someone who’s been part of our lives for so long. Therefore, we’ll leave you with these words from Mark Hamill, a/k/a Luke Skywalker. I don’t think we could say it any better:
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.”
R.I.P., Peter. May the Force be with you.