Peter Mayhew, Chewbacca actor in "Star Wars" films, dies at 74 at North Texas home

The North Texan best known for his role as Chewbacca in the Star Wars film series has died.

Peter Mayhew passed away Tuesday in the Wise County town of Boyd with his family by his side.

Mayhew played the famous Wookkiee in the original Star Wars Trilogy. He had health struggles over the years and fought back to portray Chewbacca once more in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

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

Mayhew did not reprise his role for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" or "Solo: A Star Wars Story." However, he was consulted to teach his successor.

He developed lifelong friendships with the other "Star Wars" actors and spent three decades traveling the world to meet his fans.

"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," actor Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker opposite Mayhew, wrote on Twitter. "I'm grateful for the memories we shared & I'm a better man for just having known him."

A private memorial will be held on June 29 for friends and family. A public memorial in December will be held for fans in Los Angeles.

Mayhew was set to appear at the FAN EXPO in Dallas this weekend at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Instead, the convention will have a memorial book for fans to leave their condolences and other planned tributes.

“Even if you weren't a fanatic, even if you were just a little bit of a fan you, still know who Chewbacca is,” said Fan Expo visitor Samantha Perry.

Andrew Moyes is the VP of Fan Expo. He says Mayhew was always incredible interacting with fans and was down to earth and accessible.

“It's a huge loss. It really is, and that's something that's going to be felt and really reverberate through the community,” he said. “In a way, it's nice that we're coming together because we'll be able to support each other as a community because it is helpful to be able to communicate to share the stories.”

FOX 4 last spoke with Mayhew at his Wise County home in 2016 after the passing of Carrie Fisher.

In lieu of gifts and flowers, Mayhew's family is asking for donations to the Peter Mayhew Foundation. The non-profit organization helps kids and adults in need by alleviating "disease, pain, suffering, and the financial toll brought on by life's traumatic events." They most recently gave food and supplies to children and families affected by the Venezuela crisis.

Donations can be made at:

Mayhew is survived by wife Angie and three children. The Star Wars actor was 74 years old.