Remembering Peter Mayhew/Chewbacca: The Arizona Star Warz Convention 1997

Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in five of the Star Wars movies, passed away last week.

I was fortunate to have had Peter as a guest at a Star Wars convention that I hosted back in 1997. I also was able to catch up with Peter at various toy and comic conventions over the years. He was always very gracious, witty, and personable to all fans who approached him.

Peter gave life to Chewbacca. I cannot think of anyone who could have portrayed Chewbacca in the way Peter did.

I hope these rare photos of Peter make you smile and think fondly of him.

RIP, Peter. May the Force be with you!

[NOTE: Below is a previous post I made from December 18, 2017.]


Last year, I was cleaning out our garage; something I had promised my wife I would do for many years. As fortune would have it, I stumbled upon a group of long-lost photos from our Arizona Star Warz Convention from 1997 (now 20 years ago).

Most folks are not aware that I hosted and promoted the Arizona Star Warz Convention (AZSWCON) on Halloween weekend of 1997. We had many people associated with the Star Wars movies in attendance, including the “Men Behind the Masks.”

Our convention was a per-cursor to all of the Lucas-sponsored Star Wars conventions and was the largest of its kind in the World back then. We had thousands of people attend. In fact, we had Lucasfilm’s PR guy in attendance and as a presenter.

I wanted to do something unique with the Star Wars actors in attendance, so I booked a photo shoot at our old western town, Rawhide, located in Northwest Scottsdale. I had the Star Wars actors come out a few days early for us to do some fun photos with them all dressed up in cowboy gear. We had a local, very popular and excellent photographer (Hassan Photography) take the photos.


With the release of Star Wars VIII – The Last Jedi last week, I thought this would be a great time to share these photos with you.

Below each photo is a list of who is in that photo. I remember we all laughed and had a lot of fun doing this.

I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do.

May the Force be with you!


(Photo Left): The old Rawhide sign off Scottsdale Road.

Star Wars_Page_1

Above: The convention poster. Boy, did we have a great group of people in attendance to represent the Star Wars movies.

100 - Group Photo at Rawhide

Above: (Left to Right): Kenny Baker (R2-D2), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), David Prowse (Darth Vader),  John Hollis (Lobot, Lando’s Aide), Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna), Cinthia Freeling (Princess Anne-Droid, Hardware Wars (1978)), Caroline Blakiston (Mon Mothma), Phil Brown (Uncle Owen).

You don’t want to get into a gunfight with this crowd.

300 - Peter and Barrel

Above: Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) a bit over a barrel.

400 - Group Photo in the Wagon Train

Above: (Standing Left): Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), David Prowse (Darth Vader), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Cinthia Freeling (Princess Anne-Droid, Hardware Wars (1978)), (On Stairs): Phil Brown (Uncle Owen), Caroline Blakiston (Mon Mothma), (In Wagon): Kenny Baker (R2-D2), (On Right): Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna),  John Hollis (Lobot, Lando’s Aide).

Well, I guess we can mosey over to the cantina.

200 - Hanging Out at the Sheriff Office

Above: (Sitting Left): Caroline Blakiston (Mon Mothma), Phil Brown (Uncle Owen), (Standing Left): Kenny Baker (R2-D2), (In Jail): John Hollis (Lobot, Lando’s Aide), Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna), (In Doorway): David Prowse (Darth Vader), Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett), (Sitting, Stretched Out): Cinthia Freeling (Princess Anne-Droid, Hardware Wars (1978)), (Standing Right): Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca).

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany.

Michael - Cinthia - Caroline

Above: (Left to Right): Michael Carter (Bib Fortuna), Cinthia Freeling (Princess Anne-Droid, Hardware Wars (1978)), Caroline Blakiston (Mon Mothma).

Michael “shoots” while Cinthia and Caroline shoot back!

Peter and Kenny is a Humorous Showdown

(Standing Left to Right): Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Kenny Baker (R2-D2).

Looks light we have a bit of a predicament!

All photos Copyright © 1997, Michael S. Sandberg. All Rights Reserved. Use of these photos, in any manner whatsoever, without the expressed permission of the copyright owner is an illegal copyright infringement and is subject to legal penalties.

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