I learned Yesterday that Peter Mayhew, the wonderful man who played Chewbacca in most of the Star Wars movies, passed away this week. He was 74 years old.
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. pic.twitter.com/YZ5VLyuK0u
— Peter Mayhew Foundation (@TheWookieeRoars) May 2, 2019
I got to see him in person once. I was at the 2007 Pittsburgh Comic Con. Mayhew was also attending. The convention was held at the Monroeville Convention Center, about ten miles from Pittsburgh. It had an adjoining hotel that most of the attendees and guests stayed at. It made for a nice place for a comic book convention.
On Saturday morning, I was walking down the hallway to find out where the breakfast was being served so I could get some coffee. I noticed a really tall guy walking ahead of me. He was Peter Mayhew. I knew it was him from the way he was walking. He was walking like Chewbacca.
Watching movies in 1977 was a sin
I watched the original Star Wars movies more times than I could count. When Star Wars first came out, I could not watch it because the regressive Church my parents made us attend did not allow members to go to movie theaters. It was considered a sin. The church amended this rule, but in 1977 when Star Wars premiered, this rule was still in place. In 1977 I was the biggest Star Wars nerd who had not watched the movie. I read the book and I had The Story of Star Wars, an abridged record album of the original movie.
I eventually watched Star Wars and re-watched it many, many times. It was because of watching Star Wars and the other movies in the trilogy so many times that I knew the gentleman in front of me in that hallway was Chewbacca. He had the same distinctive gait, the way of walking that everyone’s favorite Wookie had. I was walking behind Chewbacca.
It is my favorite memory of that convention. It was completely passive and natural. I got to experience something I never thought I would experience. It was not even something I thought I wanted to experience until I actually experienced it.
Peter Mayhew will be missed.