Carrie Fisher, best known for her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, died today after suffering a heart attack a few days ago on a flight from London to Los Angeles, according to THR. She was 60.
Born in Beverly Hills, CA, in 1956, the actress and writer grew up in the spotlight as the child of stars Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. While she often performed live alongside her mother, Fisher made her big-screen debut at 19 in 1975’s Shampoo starring opposite Warren Beatty. But it was her next film, 1977’s Star War: A New Hope, George Lucas’s unexpected mega-hit scifi adventure that spawned one of the biggest franchises of all time, that led her to become a household name and a role model to little girls — and women — everywhere.
In the original Star Wars, she played the white-robed galactic princess with the iconic hair buns who was one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance fighting against Darth Vader and the evil Empire. With the surprise success of the film, Fisher gained international fame and a rabid fan base that til this day worships the Princess.
Fisher reprised her role as Princess Leia for the direct sequels, 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back and 1983’s Return of the Jedi, the latter in which she donned the now iconic “Slave Leia” gold bikini, which has gone on to become a cosplay favorite.
The actress took on some lesser-known roles in the 1980s in The Blues Brothers (1980), The Man with One Red Shoe (1985), Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), When Harry Met Sally… (1989), and The ‘Burbs (1989), but none of her other projects achieved the success of the original Star Wars trilogy, and no other character she portrayed could disassociate her from Princess Leia. Much like her co-star Mark Hamill, who will forever be Luke Skywalker, Fisher and Leia are one. Her likeness as Leia has for decades been adorning t-shirts, toys, action figures, lunch boxes, school supplies, and much more.
Going into the 1990s, Fisher did less acting and more writing, starting with her first novel, the best-selling semi-autobiographical Postcards from the Edge (1987), which was based on her real-life drug addictions and her relationship with her famous mother. She went on to adapt the book in 1990 into the big-screen version starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.
While she took on small acting roles through the years, including playing a nun in Kevin Smith’s 2001 comedy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, and a doctor in the 2009 Star Wars-themed comedy Fanboys, Fisher mainly focused on writing. She went on to pen several fiction novels, as well as several autobiographies, including 2008’s Wishful Drinking, which she later performed as a one-woman play, and this year’s The Princess Diarist, her memories from filming Star Wars where she revealed she had a 3-month life-changing affair with her older co-star Harrison Ford.
Along with her novels, she also became a reliable Hollywood script doctor from 1991 to 2005, where she touched up screenplays for movies like Hook (1991), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), Sister Act (1992), Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005), and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones (2002) and its direct sequel Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005).
Last year, she returned to the big screen and to the Star Wars franchise once again as Leia in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Earlier this year, she had completed work on the direct sequel, Star Wars: Episode VIII, which will be released on December 15, 2017.
Though a living legend with a famous Hollywood upbringing and much success, Fisher also strugged with addiction and mental illness, subjects of which she was vocal about. She suffered with bipolar disorder and at times in her life was addicted to cocaine and prescription medication, drugs she self-medicated with to cope with her mental disorder.
In 1977, Fisher dated musician Paul Simon and the couple married in 1983, but divorced the following year. She later had a relationship with talent agent Bryan Lourd, and the two had a daughter, Billie Lourd, who currently stars on the FOX TV series Scream Queens. The relationship ended when Lourd came out as bisexual.
On December 23, 2016, while on a flight from London to Los Angeles, Fisher went into cardiac arrest and had reportedly stop breathing. Upon arrival in LA, the actress was taken to the hospital and placed on a ventilator in critical condition, but as of yesterday was reportedly in stable condition. As the world sent their thoughts and prayers for Fisher’s recovery, it appeared that possibly 2016 would not claim yet another beloved icon. But then Fisher died at the hospital today at 8:55am PST in Los Angeles, CA. Earlier this year, her Star Wars co-star Kenny Baker, who played the droid R2-D2, died at 81.
Fisher is survived by her daughter, Billie Lourd; mother Debbie Reynolds; brother Todd Fisher; and half-sisters Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher, as well as her beloved French bulldog Gary, who she was rarely seen without in recent years.
Though Carrie Fisher struggled with her mental health, she was a wonderful talent and inspiration, especially to women. Her role as the strong, independent Princess who stood up to Darth Vader left a lasting impression and went on to become symbolic with female empowerment. The Force was indeed strong with her. Fisher was smart as a whip, witty, and highly talented, with so much of her greatness happening behind the scenes. I think we’ll be learning a lot more in the coming days and months about just how much she did in Hollywood that we didn’t know about. Her return to the Star Wars franchise was a highly anticipated one for fans, who awaited her continuing adventures. She will be greatly missed. RIP Princess.
RIP Carrie Fisher
October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016
Carrie Fisher – so damn funny – from a Q&A with @WebMD: "If I'm trying to get a good table, I don't say I wrote Postcards From the Edge." pic.twitter.com/R0kbhW5yuE