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“Star Wars” Day Tragedy: Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew Died Tuesday

Tomorrow is May 4th, and that’s “Star Wars” Day . . . as in, May the FOURTH be With You.

But the celebrations may be a little muted this year, because the word came down yesterday that PETER MAYHEW died on Tuesday.  He was 74.  There’s no word on the cause of death, but at least one source is claiming it was a heart attack.

Peter was the original Chewbacca.  He was a 7-foot-3 hospital orderly when he tried out for the original “Star Wars” in 1977.  He also appeared in “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Return of the Jedi”, and “Revenge of the Sith”.

He returned for “The Force Awakens” in 2015, but because of his age and declining health, he had to share the role with a guy named Joonas Suotamo, who has since taken it over.

Yesterday, MARK HAMILL Tweeted, quote, “He was the gentlest of giants.  A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile and a loyal friend who I loved dearly.

“I’m grateful for the memories we shared and I’m a better man for just having known him.  Thanks Pete.”

BILLY DEE WILLIAMS said, quote, “Much more than Chewie to me . . . My heart hurts . . . I will miss you my dear friend . . . thanks for the great memories!”

GEORGE LUCAS said, quote, “Peter was a wonderful man.  He was the closest any human being could be to a Wookiee:  big heart, gentle nature . . . and I learned to always let him win.  He was a good friend and I’m saddened by his passing.”

And HARRISON FORD issued a long statement that read, in part, “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 . . .

“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.”