Mayhew was born in London, and was selected for the role of Chewbacca purely for his height (7ft 2in). While casting for Star Wars George Lucas has initially earmarked David Prowse to portray Chewbacca but Prowse opted to play Darth Vader instead, leaving the wookiee suit open. He would portray Han Solo's co-pilot in the original trilogy, and returned for Revenge of the Sith. In 2015's The Force Awakens he shared the role with Joonas Suotamo, for subsequent films he remained in a consultant role.
A fan favourite at conventions, Mayhew was often described as a gentle giant, and his family said that "the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film". He was also much-loved by his fellow cast members, and tributes have been flooding in.
A private memorial service for friends and family will be held in June, with a memorial service for fans planned for December.
Rest in peace, Peter Mayhew, 1944 - 2019.