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Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew dies at 74

Actor Peter Mayhew, best known for playing Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, died Tuesday at his home in Texas, his family announced Thursday. He was 74.

"He put his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films," his family said in a statement. Mayhew enjoyed traveling around the world meeting Star Wars fans, they added, and developed lifelong bonds with his co-stars.

Before he was an actor, Mayhew worked as a hospital attendant in London. He was over seven feet tall, and wrote two books with titles based on his height: Growing up Giant and My Favorite Giant. A memorial service for family and friends will be held in June, and fans can celebrate his life during a public memorial scheduled for December in Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife, Angie, and three children.