A booth that would have seen Star Wars legend Peter Mayhew greet fans at Fan Expo Dallas Friday was transformed into a memorial for the Chewbacca star after it was learned Mayhew died April 30 at the age of 74.
“There is a feeling of shock among our team,” Fan Expo Vice President Andrew Moyes told Dallas’ CBS 11.
“Always a line for him and always a full panel as well. He was a great speaker, he was a great storyteller. And, of course, he created one of the most iconic characters in pop culture.”
Fans were encouraged to sign a book that will later be presented to Mayhew’s family, who reported Mayhew’s death Thursday.
“There’s a sadness but also a warmth when you look at the stories they’re sharing about the impact he had on their lives. It’s an incredible experience to meet your hero,” Moyes said. “And the fans would walk away feeling a couple inches taller because they felt inspired and honored to have met him.”
Mayhew last appeared at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago last month. Since his death, Star Wars talent and fans alike have paid tribute to the man who portrayed the iconic Wookie across five feature films between 1977 and 2015.
Star Wars creator George Lucas said Mayhew was “a wonderful man” in a statement published via Disney-owned ABC.
“He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookie: big heart, gentle nature... and I learned to always let him win,” Lucas said. “He was a good friend and I’m saddened by his passing.”
“Peter Mayhew was a kind and gentle man, possessed of great dignity and noble character,” Ford said in a statement to ComicBook.com.
“These aspects of his own personality, plus his wit and grace, he brought to Chewbacca. We were partners in film and friends in life for over 30 years and I loved him. He invested his soul in the character and brought great pleasure to the Star Wars audience.”
Ford continued, “Chewbacca was an important part of the success of the films we made together. He knew how important the fans of the franchise were to it’s continued success and he was devoted to them. I and millions of others will never forget Peter and what he gave us all. My thoughts are with his dear wife Angie and his children. Rest easy, my dear friend.”
Luke Skywalker star Mark Hamill remembered Mayhew in a social media tribute as “the gentlest of giants- A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly.” Echoed Billy Dee Williams, who makes his own return to the franchise in December’s The Rise of Skywalker, Mayhew was “much more than Chewie to me,” Williams tweeted.
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