Obituary: Carrie Fisher 1960 – 2016

Actress and writer Carrie Fisher has died at the age of 60 years old. She suffered a heart attack on 23 December on a flight from London to Los Angeles before passing away four days later on 27 December.

Fisher will forever be associated with the Star Wars movies, having played Princess Leia in the George Lucas originated franchise; however, there was much more to her than that. She was also a best-selling writer and a highly paid script doctor as well as one hell of a raconteur.

The daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher was born on 21 October, 1956. She made her screen debut in 1975’s Shampoo opposite Warren Beatty, Goldie Hawn and Julie Christie. She nabbed the role of Princess Leia Organa in 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope and it thrust her career into hyperdrive. She starred in a variety of films in roles big and small, appearing in The Blues Brothers (1980), Under The Rainbow (1981), The Man With One Red Shoe (1985), The ‘burbs (1988) When Harry Met Sally (1989) and Scream 3 (2000) amongst many others. She might not have had the big screen success of her co-star Harrison Ford, but she carved out an interesting career in supporting characters. Ultimately though, it was her writing which brought her wit and humour to the fore.

1987’s Postcards From The Edge was a fictionalised account of her relationship with her mother and her battle with drugs and alcohol. She adapted the book into a screenplay which was filmed by director Mike Nichols starring Meryl Streep, Shirley Mc Laine and Dennis Quaid. Other novels such as Surrender To The Pink, Delusions Of Grandma, Hollywood Moms and The Best Awful There Is followed, while she also penned a selection of memoirs such as Wishful Drinking, Shockaholic and The Princess Diarist. She was tapped by Steven Spielberg to punch-up the dialogue in Hook, a move that kick-started a lucrative career as a script doctor. Fisher would add zest and sparkle to Lethal Weapon 3, Sister Act, Outbreak and The Wedding Singer amongst others.

On the personal front Carrie Fisher was in several high profile relationships. She was engaged to Dan Aykroyd and was married to musician Paul Simon from 1983 to 1984 – she also co-wrote tracks on the self-titled debut album by Simon’s son, Harper. The publication of The Princess Diarist in 2016 brought light to the fact that she had an affair with Harrison Ford during the making of Star Wars in 1976. Her daughter Billie Lourd was born in 1992 following a relationship with Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd.

Carrie Fisher struggled with drug addiction throughout her life and she also dealt with mental health issues, being diagnosed as bipolar. In the past she also received electro-shock therapy. She turned these into positives, becoming a campaigner for mental health and using her life experiences as fuel for her written work. She became attached to her pet dog Gary Fisher, using him as an emotional crutch and the dog become something of a celebrity on the promotional circuit following the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

To generations, Carrie Fisher will be remembered as Princess Leia. Her work in the the original trilogy was superb, crafting an iconic character and also having input into how the script played out on screen. Her scenes with Harrison Ford in The Empire Strikes Back are some of the best in the history of cinema, bringing a touch of classic Hollywood screwball comedy into George Lucas’ space opera. She returned to a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Rogue One: a Star Wars Story reprising her iconic role (the latter using computer generated trickery). The role was small, but pivotal and it looked like Leia would be integral in its two sequels. Her role in Star Wars Episode VIII is already in the can and it will be interesting to see how her death is dealt with as the series continues.

Carrie Fisher was larger than life and she exuded an energy that is unable to fake. She didn’t play the Hollywood game, but she lived life to the full. Her death was a shock to many as she was only 60 years old. Her death impacted her fans and family. Sadly her mother Debbie Reynolds died of a stroke on 28 December 2016 – just three days after the death of her daughter. Many actors and actress leave behind a legacy, but few leave behind something as beloved as Fisher’s work in Star Wars. Carrie Fisher has died but she will continue to live on in a galaxy far, far away.

Carrie Fisher 1956 – 2016.