Carrie Fisher, known for her portrayal l of Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, her campaigns for mental health awareness and her sharp humour and honesty, has passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 60.
Fisher suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on 23rd December, and her death was confirmed by her daughter Billy Lourd on the afternoon of 27th December.
Although Fisher made her film debut in the 1975 comedy Shampoo, the star shot to fame at the age of twenty-one after taking on the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars in 1977. She continued to play the role up until this year, appearing as the rebellion leader in last years installment, The Force Awakens, and having just completed filming of her scenes in the upcoming eighth episode in the franchise.
Whilst she will always be remembered for her iconic role, she became just as well known for her quick wit and candid accounts of life in Hollywood and growing up as the daughter of stars Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Her screenplay Postcards from the Edge, in which she spoke candidly of her personal struggles with mental health and addiction, was adapted into a 1990 film starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep, and several other books followed, including Delusions of Grandma, Surrender the Pink, The Best Awful, Shockaholic and this year’s autobiography, The Princess Diarist.
Fisher had also become a prolific television guest star in recent years, playing herself in Maps to the Stars and in an episode of Sex and the City, a has-been comedy legend on 30 Rock, and even appearing as a panelist on QI.
Never afraid to laugh at herself, her one-woman show Wishful Drinking, which she performed in 2006, was turned into a book, came to Broadway in 2009 and was filmed for HBO in 2010, left little of her life to the imagination; she spoke of how her father ran off with Elizabeth Taylor, her marriage to singer Paul Simon, the father of her daughter leaving her for a man, and even the day she woke up next to the dead body of a friend.
Fisher was also an enormous advocate of mental health and addiction awareness. Suffering herself from bipolar disorder, she chain-smoked, confessed to a love of LSD and suffered during life from addictions to cocaine and painkillers. She once said, “I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I’m still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you.” With her characteristic sharp wit, her also stated “I’m very sane about how crazy I am.”
Tributes to the star have poured in as the news has broken. Her mother described her as “amazing”, and wrote “thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop”.
Co-star Harrison Ford said, “Carrie was one-of-a-kind … brilliant, original. Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely… we will all miss her.” Mark Hamill, who starred as Luke Skywalker alongside Fisher in the Star Wars films, tweeted “no words #Devastated”, alongside a photograph of them together.
Carrie Fisher, through not only her talent but also her wonderful personality, became an icon, and will be missed my millions.
“From here on out, there’s just reality. I think that’s what maturity is: a stoic response to endless reality.”
Words by Amie Bailey