Damn you, 2016. You just had to claim one more. Carrie Fisher, the legendary actress who shot to fame playing Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died at age 60.
As has been widely reported, Fisher suffered a major heart attack on a London to Los Angeles flight last Friday, requiring CPR from on an onboard EMT to keep her alive. Once her plane landed she was rushed to UCLA Medical Center, where she had been kept ever since. The last reports we had heard was that she had been in a critical but stable condition. Now it has been confirmed that her condition worsened resulting in her death earlier today.
An official statement was given to People by family spokesman Simon Halls, on behalf of Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd:
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,” says Lourd. “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.
Fisher, essentially lived her entire life in the Hollywood limelight, being born to famed actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher. Their family was soon placed under the paparazzi miscroscope when her parents’ marriage ended very publicly due to her father having an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Fisher famously remarked that she was born in the spotlight.
She briefly escaped the craziness of Hollywood in 1973 by moving to London where she studied acting and drama. Two years later though she was back in Tinsel Town to follow in her mother’s footsteps with her debut role Shampoo alongside Warren Beatty. She was just 17 years old at the time. However, it was in 1977 when she would really leave her mark on this world, as she was cast as the rebellious Princess Leia in George Lucas’ Star Wars. The role, and her subsequent appearances in the film’s two sequels, would catapult her to true superstar status, with Leia becoming one of film’s most beloved characters.
After Star Wars, she would also appear in a number of other films like The Blues Brothers, The Burbs, and When Harry Met Sally. She also had a very good writing career, first writing the semi-autobiagraphical novel Postcards From the Edge in 1987, and then penning the screenplay for the Mike Nichols directed feature film adaptation in 1990. She would release a handful of other popular novels, and but would spend most of her post-Star Wars years as on of Hollywood’s top script doctors, doing (often uncredited) work on high profile Hollywood features like the Star Wars Prequels, Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Hook, Sister Act, Last Action Hero, Coyote Ugly, Lethal Weapon 3, Outbreak, The Wedding Singer, Scream 3 and Mr. and Mrs. Smith among many others.
But it was always her role in Star Wars for which she would be forever known. And as the franchise became a global phenomenon to rival anything that came before or after it, so too Fisher became a consummate fan favourite with her incredible wit, humour and candor. She was very open about her battles with substance abuse and mental illness, admitting that she first began dabbling with drugs at age 13. Her public speaking about her personal demons and her quest to not just overcome them, but also help others do the same, would earn her a Lifetime Achievement Award from Harvard College in 2016 for cultural humanitarianism.
Fisher recently reprised her role as Princess Leia – now General Leia – in last year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and was set to do the same on the Rian Johnson directed Star Wars: Episode VIII. The latter film has been in production for a while and is set to be released in almost exactly a year, so it’s uncertain if she had already finished filming all her scenes. Either way, you would have to think that Leia played some future role in the upcoming Star Wars films, which will more than likely prompt the producers to make some changes.
But that’s a concern for another day. Right now we are just deeply saddened by the loss of an absolute legend. Somebody who entertained, delighted and inspired millions around the world. She was not perfect, but it was how she openly faced her imperfections, turning them into strengths that made her enviable. Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia was true Hollywood royalty. May the Force be with her and her family.
Last Updated: January 3, 2017