World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – Arrivals – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 09/12/2017 – Actor Peter Mayhew. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
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Peter Mayhew, actor who played Chewbacca in ‘Star Wars’ movies, dies

World Premiere of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” – Arrivals – Los Angeles, California, U.S., 09/12/2017 – Actor Peter Mayhew. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

(Reuters) – British-born actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca the Wookiee, the loyal, furry cohort of space buccaneer Han Solo in five of the “Star Wars” movies, has died at age 74, his family said on Thursday.

Mayhew, whose face was never seen in the “Star Wars” films – his entire body was always clothed in his Wookiee costume – died at his north Texas home on Tuesday, according to the family’s statement on Twitter, but no cause of death was given.

The tall, lanky performer made his first appearance as the beloved, bleating Chewbacca character in the landmark 1977 sci-fi action-thriller “Star Wars,” and went on to co-star in four more films in the blockbuster series – “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” “Revenge of the Sith” and “The Force Awakens.”

He also served as an off-camera consultant on the final 2017 film in the series, “The Last Jedi,” helping to tutor his successor in the Chewbacca role on the ways of convincingly playing a Wookiee.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine in Los Angeles; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Chris Reese and Peter Cooney)