Star Wars fans worldwide have been mourning the loss of the man behind Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, and attendees of Fan Expo Dallas who were prior prepared to meet the legendary actor will be given the opportunity to pay their final respects at the convention. For a man so dedicated to his portrayal of a beloved character and so dedicated to the Star Wars franchise and its fans, there could hardly be a more fitting way of honoring his legacy.
On April 30, 2019, Mayhew passed away at his home in North Texas among family at the age of 74. Coming almost three years after the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Kenny Baker, Mayhew's death has sent shockwaves throughout the Star Wars fanbase and, of course, his surviving former cast members. Though Mayhew did not portray everyone's favorite Wookiee in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he continued to show his endless zeal for the character and franchise by previously reprising the role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and acting as a consultant for Joonas Suotamo in the sequel and Solo: A Star Wars Story.
In a touching display of admiration and respect, Fan Expo Dallas can be seen to have saved Mayhew's reserved space (via Get Your Geek On), opting to turn his booth into a memorial. Accompanied by a remote control version of Chewbacca's faithful friend, R2-D2, Mayhew's memorial is flanked by beautiful flower arrangements, a donation box (presumably for his family and/or a charitable cause), and guest books in which his fans can extend their condolences and express their shared grief.
Fan Expo Dallas Vice President Andrew Moyes spoke about the convention's warm relationship with Mayhew in an interview with local news agency CBS DFW, solemnly stating, "There is a feeling of shock among our team." Speaking about Mayhew's previous appearances at Fan Expo Dallas, Moyer paints a picture of a man who loved his fans as much as they did him when saying:
"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... 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. And the fans would walk away feeling a couple inches taller because they felt inspired and honored to have met him."
It goes without saying that there is no true replacement for a man as talented and loved as Mayhew, neither on the screen nor on the floor of a fan convention. However, Fan Expo Dallas' stirring memorial, the outpour of grief from his admirers and peers, and the visible lessons taught to Chewbacca successor Suotamo's all speak to Mayhew's undying legacy as a sci-fi icon. May the Force be with him.