Family, friends and fans mourn Carrie Fisher, the iconic 'Star Wars' princess
December 27, 2016 1:50 PM
20th Century Fox
Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in a production photo from the set of "Star Wars."
Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Carrie Fisher on stage in her autobiographical show “Wishful Drinking,” at Studio 54 in New York, Sept. 24, 2009.
Matt Dunham/Associated Press
Actress Carrie Fisher in June.
George Brich/Associated Press
The "Star Wars" cast during the filming of the CBS-TV special “The Star Wars Holiday” on Nov. 13, 1978.
By Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Carrie Fisher, who reached Hollywood icon status as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” franchise, died Tuesday at age 60.
Ms. Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, released a statement through her spokesman saying Ms. Fisher died just before 9 a.m PST. Ms. Lourd, whose father is talent agent Bryan Lourd, said her mother was “loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly.”
Ms. Fisher’s mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, had taken to social media days earlier to say Ms. Fisher was in “stable condition” after suffering a heart attack on Friday during a flight from London to Los Angeles.
“To all her friends and fans, I thank you all for your prayers and good wishes,” Ms. Reynolds wrote on Facebook.
"Carrie was one-of-a-kind, brilliant, original," Harrison Ford said in a statement. "Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely. My thoughts are with her daughter Billie, her Mother Debbie, her brother Todd and her many friends. We will all miss her."
“It definitely was pivotal. It became everything, so that sort of overshadows everything,” she said.
Asked if she would have done anything differently, she said she wasn’t sure. “It’s sort of like if there was actually someone who was Minnie Mouse and I could meet her and we could have lunch once a week, we would have a lot to laugh about. But there isn’t someone like that. In a way, the only thing I can hope is that I’m not Princess Leia. Princess Leia is me.”
Ms. Fisher played the house mother of a sorority house in the filmed-in-Pittsburgh horror movie “Sorority Row,” which took over the lawn and steps in front of Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall for a graduation scene in the fall of 2008.
Ms. Fisher was born October 21, 1956, in Beverly Hills, Calif. She lived life in the spotlight from the start, as the daughter of Ms. Reynolds and the late singer Eddie Fisher. Her parents endured a much-publicized divorce after he left “America’s sweetheart” to marry Elizabeth Taylor.
Ms. Fisher’s film debut came in the 1975 comedy “Shampoo,” starring Warren Beatty, before the “Star Wars” franchise launched her into the stratosphere of fandom, starting in 1977.
The 5-foot-1 actress, author and mental-health activist was married to singer-songwriter Paul Simon for a short time in the mid-1980s, but their turbulent relationship lasted a decade according to the Simon biography “Homeward Bound.”
She chronicled her struggles with fame, relationships and addiction in several nonfiction (“Postcards From the Edge”; “The Best Awful”) and fiction books. Her latest, “The Princess Diarist,” revealed an affair with married co-star Harrison Ford during the filming of the first “Star Wars” film, “A New Hope.”
Though Ms. Fisher’s facility as a writer may have surprised fans who only knew her from her work in the galaxy far, far away, it was hardly news to those who knew her best.
“I started reading really early – I wanted to impress my father, who is unimpressable” she told The Los Angeles Times in 2008. “My family called me ‘the bookworm’ and they didn’t say it in a nice way. I fell in love with words…. By about 16 I wanted to be Dorothy Parker.”
Ms. Fisher went on to write several more novels, including “Surrender the Pink” and “Delusions of Grandma,” and, again using her life as material, published the 2008 memoir “Wishful Drinking,” based on a one-woman show she had performed on Broadway. Less publicly, she also earned steady work as one of the film industry’s most in-demand script doctors.
At the time of her death, Ms. Fisher was on tour promoting her recently published book “The Princess Diarist.” A memoir based on diaries she kept around the time she filmed the first “Star Wars” movie,” the book revealed that the actress had carried on an affair with co-star Harrison Ford, who played the roguish smuggler Han Solo, with whom Leia had an often tempestuous romantic relationship.
Indeed, Ms. Fisher was never one to shy away from uncomfortable or intimate subjects. On social media, she cultivated a brash, wise-cracking persona, whether posting droll one-liners or photos of her French bulldog Gary.
When some moviegoers complained on social media about how much older she looked in “The Force Awakens” than when she had last played the character more than three decades earlier, she retorted on Twitter with her typical sharp wit, “Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Unfortunately it hurts all 3 of my feelings.”
Variety said that Ms. Fisher had completed work as Leia Organa in the upcoming eighth installment of "Star Wars," which finished shooting in July and is due for a December 2017 release.
Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wrote of her friend, “She had an indomitable spirit, incredible wit, and a loving heart. Carrie also defined the female hero of our age over a generation ago. Her groundbreaking role as Princess Leia served as an inspiration of power and confidence for young girls everywhere.”
Variety noted that Ms. Fisher had a recurring role on the Amazon series “Catastrophe,” with the comedy's third season set to premiere early next year. Ms. Fisher was returning from her work on the show in London when she suffered a heart attack, Variety said.
Among future roles, she was set to film “Wonderwell,” set in the world of fashion. The new documentary “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds” was set to screen at the Palm Springs Film Festival and air on HBO in March, Variety reported.
Sharon Eberson: email@example.com or 412-263-1960. The Los Angeles Times contributed.
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