Peter Mayhew passed away on April 30, 2019 in his North Texas home. An official statement from the Mayhew family confirmed that the actor was surrounded by loved ones. He was 74. Mayhew is best known for playing Chewbacca in the Star Wars film series, a part which allowed him to utilize his impressive stature. How tall was Mayhew?
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Mayhew was 7’3″ at his peak height. He often referred to himself as a giant in interviews, but he maintained that he did not have the condition known as giantism, which is defined as “excessive growth” due to a hormonal imbalance. “I don’t have the big head,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald. “There was an overactive pituitary gland. I had treatment when I was about 15 that slowed it down, they stopped it.”
Mayhew Was 7’3″ At the Peak of His Height In the 1970s
Without the treatment, Mayhew says he would have been over 8 feet tall. “Life would have been terrible,” he admitted. “Our interview would not have taken place.” The actor did suffer from Marfan Syndrome during his lifetime, however. Marfan is defined as “a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue.” Marfan Syndrome can also affect the lungs, skin, and nervous system.
Mayhew’s exceptional height led to several health issues as he got older. In 2014, he revealed that the surgery costs he tallied up amounted to a small fortune. “You’re talking to a man with the most expensive knees in the world,” he said. ”They’re bigger than the average. I don’t get off-the-shelf knees.” Mayhew estimated that his knee surgeries cost somewhere in the range of $1 million.
Mayhew’s Height Forced Him to Undergo Several Knee & Spinal Surgeries
Mayhew was often seen with a cane or riding around in a wheelchair at public events. In 2018, he underwent spinal surgery in an effort to improve his mobility. It is unclear whether his height had to do with his passing, as an official cause of death has yet to be confirmed.
Prior to being cast in Star Wars in 1977, Mayhew worked as a medical orderly in his native England. “It was nice to being among people you could help,” he recalled. ”You could do things; reach the top shelf, pick a little old lady up, put her in a wheelchair and whisk her away. There are a lot of pleasant memories. I do a job because I want to, not because I have to.”
Mayhew Played Chewbacca Up Until 2015’s ‘The Force Awakens’
Mayhew returned to play Chewbacca in 2006’s Revenge of the Sith and 2015’s The Force Awakens. Finnish actor Joonas Suotamo has since taken over the role. “He fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” read the Mayhew family’s statement. “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,” the statement added. “But to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film.”