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Peter Mayhew, Actor Who Played Chewbacca In 'Star Wars' Films, Dead At 74

LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) -- Actor Peter Mayhew, who played Han Solo's towering Wookie co-pilot Chewbacca in the "Star Wars" films, has died.

Mayhew's family posted a statement on Twitter Thursday that the actor died at his home in Texas on Tuesday. He was 74. No cause was given.

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

The 7-foot-3 Mayhew played the shaggy, towering Chewbacca, sidekick to Han Solo and co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, in the original "Star Wars" trilogy.

He went on to appear in 2005's "Revenge of the Sith" and shared the part in 2015's "The Force Awakens" with actor Joonas Suotamo, who later took over the role.

Born and raised in England, Mayhew had appeared in just one film and was working as a hospital orderly in London when George Lucas found him and cast him in 1977's "Star Wars."

Bay Area film product Lucas was planning to cast six foot six inch tall bodybuilder David Prowse in the role of Chewbacca, but when Prowse chose to play Darth Vader instead, the director was forced to set off in search of another man of large stature to fill the part.

Lucas soon discovered Mayhew, who was working as an orderly in the radiology department of King's College Hospital in London. In addition to playing the role in the "Star Wars" movies, Mayhew also made public appearances in television commercials and visiting sick children in hospitals.

Mayhew passed away just over two weeks shy of his 75th birthday, May 19th. He is survived by his wife Angie and their three children.

© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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