There’s been a great disturbance in the Force.

Peter Mayhew, the 7-foot actor who rose to fame portraying the mighty Wookiee, Chewbacca, in the Star Wars film series, has died.

The news was first announced via The Kurtz Joiner Archive, and confirmed by Mayhew’s family. Mayhew was 74.

The following statement was issued by Mayhew’s surviving family this evening:

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

Peter was the man behind the mask of Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, episode 3 of the prequels, and the New Trilogy. He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He also consulted on The Last Jedi in an attempt to teach his successor. 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. But, to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.

The relationships that began then grew into the friends and family that he would love for decades to come. As the films released and became more well-known he had his eyes opened to the possibilities of what he could achieve with his role in the Star Wars universe. For more than 30 years Peter traveled all over the world spending time with his fans and friends. Peter developed lifelong friendships with the other cast members and his fans while on the convention circuit touching the lives of millions. As he realized over the years the impact he could have, he became heavily involved with the 501st legion, Wounded Warriors, Make-a-Wish, and other non-profit organizations.

To this end, he established the Peter Mayhew Foundation, supporting everything from individuals and families in crisis situations to food and supplies for children of Venezuela during their recent road to freedom. He not only provided funds but became personally involved with each individual, family and cause he supported.

As he grew older he continued to ‘soldier on’ as he put it and was completely in his element around his fans and supporters. He grew great strength from the energy of his family, friends and the fans he knew and loved.

He is survived by his wife Angie and three children. His kindness, generosity and care will live on in the Peter Mayhew Foundation with Angie taking the helm as his voice.”

Mayhew appeared at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago last month, where his health was showing signs of deteriorating. While he had experienced ups and downs over the years, some of his planned appearances in Chicago were canceled. Still, Mayhew hit the show floor to meet as many fans as possible and to witness the unveiling of Regal Robot’s new Chewbacca bust.

A memorial service for friends and family will be held on June 29. A public memorial for fans is being planned for December, to be held at EmpireConLA.

In lieu of gifts and flowers, Mayhew’s family asks that you consider donating to The Peter Mayhew Foundation so that they can continue his efforts to help the community.