I heard the news earlier today that Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca, died. When I first saw Star Wars, forty-ish years ago, I left that theater thinking that Chewbacca was the single coolest thing ever. That first impression never really changed. It might have been George Lucas who created the character, but it was Peter Mayhew who brought him to life. For that, I will be forever grateful.
I know next to nothing about Peter Mayhew outside of Chewbacca. I’m not the type of fan to follow the behind the scenes stuff or read celebrity news. I know he was very tall. 7’3″ according to Wikipedia. I once heard that a third of all seven footers play in the NBA. I don’t know if that’s true, but outside of Peter Mayhew, all the seven footers I can name played in the NBA. I generally feel bad for any seven footer who doesn’t play in the NBA. It must be rough being too big for everything. But Peter Mayhew got to be Chewbacca. That’s gotta be better than being a professional basketball player any day of the week.
I think I’m going to re-watch the original trilogy this weekend to honor the man who gave us Chewbacca. Whether he was beating on the door of a trash compactor, carrying a disassembled C-3PO on his back, or swinging onto the top of an AT-ST, he was always the coolest. We should all take a few moments to remember that.