RIP Carrie Fisher: Star Wars actress dies at 60

The Guardian

The actress best known for her portrayal of the fiery Princess Leia has died

The Guardian |

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Carrie Fisher could charm even the toughest of Stormtroopers.

Carrie Fisher, the actress best known for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the Star Wars films has died in Los Angeles. She was 60 years old.

Her death came days after she was reported to have suffered a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. The news was confirmed in a statement released on behalf of her daughter, Billie Lourd, who said Fisher was “loved by the world” and “will be profoundly missed”.

As the daughter of two Hollywood stars, Debbie Reynolds and the late singer Eddie Fisher, Fisher brought awareness and humour to her work, whether in film or in books that tracked her fortunes in life – or what she herself had termed “what it’s like to live an all-too-exciting life”.

Her mother described her as “amazing”. Reynolds, 84, wrote on Facebook: “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. Love Carries Mother”.

Fisher’s Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford, 74, said in a statement: “Carrie was one-of-a-kind ... brilliant, original. 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.”

Among the first to react to her death was Mark Hamill, who starred as Luke Skywalker alongside Fisher in the Star Wars films. He tweeted “no words #Devastated” and a photograph of them together.

Earlier, announcing Fisher’s death in Los Angeles, Billie Lourd’s publicist said: “It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8.55 this morning. She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Fisher had shot to stardom in 1977 upon the release of the original Star Wars, a movie that changed Hollywood and a franchise that continues to captivate new audiences. She revisited the role as the leader of a galactic rebellion in sequels, including last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Fisher was also celebrated for her comedic accounts of life in Hollywood and her personal struggles. Her screenplay Postcards from the Edge, which dealt with issues of mental health and addiction, was adapted into a 1990 film starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep.

More books followed, including Delusions of Grandma, Surrender the Pink, The Best Awful, Shockaholic and this year’s autobiography, The Princess Diarist.

In the past 15 years, Fisher also had a popular career as a television guest star, recently in the Amazon show Catastrophe and as a has-been comedy legend on 30 Rock.

Carrie Fisher arriving at the premiere of the HBO documentary Wishful Drinking in 2010.
Photo: AFP

Her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, was turned into a book and made its way to Broadway in 2009 and was captured for HBO in 2010.

Little was off-limits in the show. She discussed the scandal that engulfed her superstar parents (her father ran off with film star Elizabeth Taylor); her brief marriage to the singer Paul Simon; and the time the father of her daughter left her for a man.

“People relate to aspects of my stories, and that’s nice for me because then I’m not all alone with it,” she said. “Also, I do believe you’re only as sick as your secrets. If that’s true, I’m just really healthy.”

Fisher’s brief marriage to Simon in the early 80s ended after 11 months. She later had a daughter named Billie with Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd. That union ended with Lourd leaving Fisher for a man.

Her latest book, The Princess Diarist made news when she revealed that she and her co-star Harrison Ford had had an affair on the set of Star Wars. She told People magazine: “It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend.”

Fisher had bipolar disorder for which she received electroshock therapy. She chain-smoked, confessed to a love of LSD and her compulsions led to addictions to cocaine and painkillers.

Fisher had also recently started writing an advice column published in the Guardian. One reader wrote to her seeking advice for dealing with bipolar disorder. Fisher praised the reader for asking for help and said: “You reached out to me – that took courage. Now build on that.”

Fisher was born in Beverly Hills, California, in 1956, to her Hollywood royalty parents. When Fisher was two years old, her father left the family for Taylor, the widow of her father’s best friend, Mike Todd. The following year, her mother married Harry Karl, owner of a shoe store chain.

Fisher made her film debut in the 1975 comedy Shampoo. Two years later she was picked to play Princess Leia in Star Wars. Other roles followed, but none came close to matching the attention she received for the sci-fi series.