Original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew recovering after successful spinal surgery

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Jul 25, 2018, 4:53 PM EDT (Updated)

His C-3PO-totin’ days may be over, now that Joonas Suotamo has stepped in to take over screen duty as the Star Wars franchise’s most-quoted Wookiee. But it’s still nice to know that the man who left such big, furry shoes to fill is recovering following a recent successful back operation.

Original Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew sent out a photograph from his hospital bed with a note of thanks to his fans via Twitter on Tuesday, saying he’s recovering from the surgery, which he underwent to improve his mobility.  

“Sorry, I’ve been quiet as of late,” wrote the 74-year-old, 7’2’’ actor. “I’ve been planning & going through some spinal surgery to improve my mobility. It’s been a success & I’ll be spending the upcoming weeks recovering. A big thank you to the doctors, staff, my family & friends that have helped me through this.”

Mayhew’s last appearance as Chewbacca came in J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens (Suotamo also suited up for some scenes in the film as well), before stepping aside to make way for his slightly shorter (at a mere 7 feet tall) successor. Mayhew had come to symbolize the character for fans through the original six mainline Star Wars films, as well as in-character appearances on The Muppet Show and at other fan-friendly events and charities outside the Star Wars universe.

Mayhew also tweeted today that the surgery has forced him to reschedule his upcoming appearance at the London Film & Comic Con, but that he’s planning to attend an affiliated event in March of next year. He asked supporters not to send flowers and gifts to his hospital room, but to instead donate to The Peter Mayhew Foundation, his charity “devoted to the alleviation of disease, pain, suffering, and the financial toll brought on by life's traumatic events,” via the nonprofit’s website.