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In North Texas, Star Wars Fans Remember Peter Mayhew And His Beloved Character Chewbacca

Courtesy of Jason Maston
North Texas Squad of the Star Garrison
Fans of Peter Mayhew, the actor who played Chewbacca, honored him Friday at FANEXPO Dallas.

Fans of the Stars Wars films are mourning the death of Peter Mayhew, the beloved actor who played Chewbacca. Mayhew lived in North Texas and was scheduled to appear this weekend FAN EXPO Dallas at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center.

Hayden Brown was upset when she heard Peter Mayhew had died. Brown, who makes fandom glassware, met the actor three years ago at a fan convention in Calgary, Canada.

She was eating breakfast with friends when Mayhew’s agent asked if his client could sit with them.

“The three of us that were sitting there were all big Star Wars fans," Brown said. "So when he rolled up, we were just like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Peter Mayhew,' and nobody said a word.”

Apparently, it was too quiet for Mayhew.

Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
Hayden Brown shows off one of the many fandom glasses she makes and sells. A few years ago, she met Peter Mayhew, the actor who plays Chewbacca, at a fan convention in Canada.

“While he’s putting food in his mouth, he goes, ‘Guys, if you don’t ask me a question, this is going to be an awkward, awkward breakfast,’ ” Brown said.

Mayhew broke the ice. And Brown and her friends ended up talking with him about Saturday morning cartoons and Chewbacca’s weapon of choice -- a bowcaster -- a big hunk of steel he told them was pretty heavy to carry around.

Other fans, like Jason Maston, said they’re spending the weekend at FAN EXPO Dallas celebrating Mayhew’s life, leaving tributes in a special book that will be given to Mayhew’s family.

“Peter, funny enough, he was a very shy person,” Maston said. “You had to kind of get him out of his shell. Once he got to know you, the inner Wookiee would come out.”

A Wookiee – a tall, hairy, bear-like, human-like creature in the Star Wars universe.

Julie Koenig, who’s with the North Texas Squad of The Star Garrison, a costume fan group, said she’ll miss seeing Mayhew at events like FAN EXPO.

“He was a sweetheart. We actually lost a guy named last year named John McHugh. He was a Wookiee. We’ve lost one Wookiee and we’ve lost another.”

Koenig said she’s comforted knowing that Mayhew and McHugh and Carrie Fisher – who played Princess Leia and died in 2016 – are all looking down on the Star Wars fandom.

Reporter Anthony Cave contributed to this story.

Credit Stella M. Chávez / KERA News
A tribute book has been set up at FAN EXPO DAllas this weekend for fans to share their thoughts about Peter Mayhew and his character Chewbacca. A memorial is scheduled for Saturday at 6 p.m. at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, where the expo is being held.

Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.