Carrie Fisher is the latest celebrity that 2016 has taken after George Michael died on Christmas Day. Fisher was in the hospital after suffering a massive heart attack on a flight en route from London to Los Angeles after promoting “Rogue One” and her latest memoir “The Princess Diarist.”
Carrie Fisher, the daughter of Hollywood royalty who played Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” and turned her experiences with addiction and mental illness into bestselling books, a hit film and popular stage performances, died Tuesday after suffering a medical emergency aboard a flight on Friday. She was 60.
Her daughter, Billie Lourd, released a statement through her spokesman announcing Fisher’s death.
“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” read the statement from publicist Simon Halls. “She was loved by the world, and she will be missed profoundly.”
Fisher, the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher, had been hospitalized since Friday when paramedics responded to a patient in distress at Los Angeles International Airport. Fisher’s family said she was in intensive care Friday evening.
She made her feature film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 hit “Shampoo.” She also appeared in “Austin Powers,” ”The Blues Brothers,” ”Charlie’s Angels,” ”Hannah and Her Sisters,” ”Scream 3″ and “When Harry Met Sally …”
But Fisher is best remembered as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” in 1977, with her now-iconic braided buns, who uttered the immortal phrase, “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” Fisher played a part in which she was tough, feisty and powerful, even if at one point she was chained to Jabba the Hutt. (She reprised the role in Episode VII of the series, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, and her digitally rendered image appears in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”)
“No words #Devastated,” actor Mark Hamill posted on Twitter Tuesday.
Fisher long battled drug addiction and mental illness. She said she smoked pot at age 13, used LSD by 21 and was first diagnosed as bipolar at age 24. She was treated with electroconvulsive therapy and medication.
In 1987, her thinly veiled autobiography “Postcards From the Edge” became a best seller. It was adapted into a 1990 film starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep.
More books followed: “Delusions of Grandma,” ”Surrender the Pink,” ”The Best Awful,” ”Shockaholic” and this year’s autobiography, “The Princess Diarist,” in which she revealed that she and co-star Harrison Ford had an affair on the set of “Star Wars.”
Ever ready to satirize herself, she has even played Carrie Fisher a few times, as in David Cronenberg’s dark Hollywood sendup “Maps to the Stars” and in an episode of “Sex and the City.” In the past 15 years, Fisher also had a somewhat prolific career as a television guest star, recently in the Amazon show “Catastrophe” as the mother of Rob Delaney’s lead, and perhaps most memorably as a has-been comedy legend on “30 Rock.”
Her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking,” which she’s performed on and off across the country since 2006, was turned into a book, 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 (Fisher ran off with Elizabeth Taylor); her brief marriage to singer Paul Simon; the time the father of her daughter left her for a man; and the day she woke up next to the dead body of a platonic friend who had overdosed in her bed.
“I’m a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result,” she said in the show. At another point, she cracked: “I don’t have a problem with drugs so much as I have a problem with sobriety.”
“She was funnier&smarter than anyone had the right to be,” Whoopi Goldberg wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “Sail On Silver Girl. Condolences Debbie & Billie.”
“Hail Hail! A genius has vacated this realm-RIP Carrie Fisher,” Roseanne Barr posted on the site.
Besides her mother and daughter, Fisher is survived by her brother, Todd Fisher.
In a 2009 interview with media outlets, Fisher wasn’t coy about revealing details about her unusual life, whether it was about drug addiction, mental illness or her failed relationships. She hoped to destigmatize mental health problems.
“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.”
Highlights From Carrie Fisher’s Life: A Woman Who Lived A Full Life and An Outspoken One:
With a big personality, a history of addiction and a long, varied show business career, here’s a taste of Carrie Fisher’s Hollywood life and times:
HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY: Her mom is Debbie Reynolds and her dad the late crooner Eddie Fisher. They divorced when she was 2 after her dad decamped to marry Elizabeth Taylor. Suffering from mental illness, and drug and alcohol addiction during much of her life, Fisher became an outspoken advocate for those issues.
STAR WARS: Who can forget that cinnamon-bun hairdo as Princess Leia in the original trilogy, from 1977 to 1983. She later reprised the role, including a turn in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” last year.
SHAMPOO: Before Star Wars was “Shampoo” of 1975, starring Warren Beatty as a Beverly Hills hairdresser. She was Lorna Karpf, and her mom reportedly wasn’t thrilled about the character’s use of profanity.
POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE: This 1990 film directed by Mike Nichols was based on a screenplay she wrote, which was based on her 1987 semi-autobiographical novel of the same title. Meryl Streep starred as movie actress Suzanne Vale, looking to rebuild her life after a drug overdose.
WISHFUL DRINKING: It’s the title of her one-woman stage show and autobiography. A version of the stage production hit HBO in 2010. She followed up this year with a memoir, “The Princess Diarist,” based on diaries she kept while filming the original Star Wars trilogy.
Hollywood Reacts To Carrie Fisher’s Passing:
Reactions to Tuesday’s death of Carrie Fisher:
“no words #Devastated” –Mark Hamill, via Twitter
“Carrie Fisher was one-of-a-kind, a true character who shared her talent and her truth with us all with her trademark wit and irreverence. Millions fell in love with her as the indomitable Princess Leia; she will always have a special place in the hearts of Star Wars fans as well as all of us who were lucky enough to know her personally. She will be sorely missed, and we join millions of fans and friends around the world who mourn her loss today.” Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company, in a statement
“When I was a young man, Carrie Fisher she was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen. She turned out to be witty and bright as well.” — Steve Martin, via Twitter
“I’m deeply saddened to learn of the death of Carrie Fisher. I will miss our banterings. A wonderful talent & light has been extinguished.” — William Shatner, via Twitter
“Oh no, we lost Carrie Fisher too. She was so funny and full of life. Rip. Condolences to her family and friends. We’ll miss her too.” — Cyndi Lauper, via Twitter
“Carrie Fisher didn’t make it. I am so terribly sorry, and send my sincere condolences to her family, friends and fans all around the world.” — Bette Midler, via Twitter
“RIP Carrie Fisher. Thank you for bringing a forceful space princess to our galaxy and for breaking stereotypes on and off the screen.” — Adrien Grenier, via Twitter
“Sweet dreams, darling @carrieffisher. I’m gonna miss you. So much. X” — James Blunt, via Twitter