A group of friends and I went to Star Wars Celebration in Chicago 3 weeks ago. We all had specific things we wanted to do at the event, including getting photos with the stars, buying merchandise, attending panel events, and lastly getting autographs.  I'm not a huge collector, but my friend Tony has a nice collection. Among the things he has is a Chewbacca Poster he was going to get an autograph on.

He had a pretty cool idea to get the new actor that has taken over the role of chewy to sign it (Joonas Suotamo), along with Peter Mayhew signature. The both were going to be there signing autographs with Topps (company that runs it). Tony scheduled his times, and off he went.

He got the Joonas Suotamo autograph pretty quickly, but when it came to get his Peter Mayhew signature he found that the actor had left. It was pretty strange and he was pretty disappointed. How could he just skip out at the last minute? They scheduled him for another time the next day. The only thing they said was that Mayhew had to leave.

So on the last day and in the last hour of Celebration, Tony stood in line for his autograph. He invited me to join him as they were allowed to have someone with them. We saw Peter from a a distance as we were standing in line. He stood out. Obviously. He was sitting down but still had a presence that grabbed your eye.

When we got closer it was easy to see that he was in a lot of pain. We knew at that point the reason he needed to leave was for medical reasons the other day. He was probably too wore out from days at Celebration. Tony asked how he was doing, and Peter replied with a smile, "I could tell you but you probably wouldn't want to know." Tony got his autograph, which turned out well despite Peter's hand trembling. He thanked him for his time and he smiled and nodded his head, and then we moved along. The old man went back to eating his Chips Ahoy! cookies, talking to his assistants.

Here's the poster:

Tony Hart

Little did we know he would die in just over 2 weeks time. We knew he wasn't doing well, but it still was a shock when we got the news yesterday. Going through Twitter feeds and seeing people post pictures from celebration show Peter smiling and taking the time to be with fans, even when he was so sick that he literally was at the end of his life. Look at the comments on his Twitter pages and see how many wonderful pictures have been shared. Thank you Peter for bringing one of the most iconic characters in movie history to life.