R.I.P. Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016) *We’ve Lost Our Princess* UPDATED

Carrie Fisher

This was a post I was praying I was not going to have to write, but given the guarded news regarding Carrie Fisher’s condition ever since she suffered a heart attack on an airplane days ago, I think all Star Wars fans were steeling themselves for this news. 2016 has taken from us so many of the greats. It saddens me beyond words to add Fisher-Star Wars’ royalty-to that number. It’s deeply tragic on a number of levels, but to see someone who has fought all her life to keep her demons at bay, seemingly overcome them with a return to the role that made us all fall in love with her last year, only to have a resurgent life and career cut short. There’s a line from Episode VII referencing her character: “To me, she’ll always be royalty.” And to me she always will. I will be pasting below the official obituary from The New York Times, followed by a reworked paragraph I wrote when the news of her cardiac episode first broke speculating on what this means for the series (shallow and trivial as that seems compared to a life). We will get to see her as Princess Leia one last time when Star Wars Episode VIII opens in December 2017.

*UPDATE: I am saddened beyond words to have to add that 24 hours after her daughter’s death, screen legend Debbie Reynolds passed away from a stroke.  I can’t bear to do another post on this tragedy, but just as I’ll always remember Fisher trading quips with Ford on the Falcon, I’ll always remember Reynolds singing in the rain.  2016 cannot end quickly enough.

Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia, Star Wars

Carrie Fisher, the actress, author and screenwriter who brought a rare combination of nerve, grit and hopefulness to her most indelible role, as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movie franchise, died on Tuesday morning. She was 60.

A family spokesman, Simon Halls, said Ms. Fisher died at 8:55 a.m. She had a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Friday and had been hospitalized in Los Angeles.

After her “Star Wars” success, Ms. Fisher, the daughter of the pop singer Eddie Fisher and the actress Debbie Reynolds, went on to use her perch among Hollywood royalty to offer wry commentary in her books on the paradoxes and absurdities of the entertainment industry.

“Star Wars,” released in 1977, turned her overnight into an international movie star. The film, written and directed by George Lucas, traveled around the world, breaking box-office records. It proved to be the first installment of a blockbuster series whose vivid, even preposterous characters — living “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” as the opening sequence announced — became pop culture legends and the progenitors of a merchandising bonanza.

Ms. Fisher established Princess Leia as a damsel who could very much deal with her own distress, whether facing down the villainy of the dreaded Darth Vader or the romantic interests of the roguish smuggler Han Solo.

Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Darth Vader, Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher, David Prowse

Lucasfilm said on Tuesday that Ms. Fisher had completed her work in an as-yet-untitled eighth episode of the main “Star Wars” saga, which is scheduled to be released in December 2017.

Winning the admiration of countless fans, Ms. Fisher never played Leia as helpless. She had the toughness to escape the clutches of the monstrous gangster Jabba the Hutt and the tenderness to tell Han Solo, as he is about to be frozen in carbonite, “I love you.” (Solo, played by Harrison Ford, caddishly replies, “I know.”)

Offscreen, Ms. Fisher was open about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She gave her dueling dispositions the nicknames Roy (“the wild ride of a mood,” she said) and Pam (“who stands on the shore and sobs”). She channeled her struggles with depression and substance abuse into fiercely comic works, including the semiautobiographical novel “Postcards From the Edge” and the one-woman show “Wishful Drinking,” which she turned into a memoir.

Star Wars, Carrie Fisher, Stormtrooper

For all the attention she received for playing Princess Leia, Ms. Fisher enjoyed poking wicked fun at the character, as well as at the fantastical “Star Wars” universe. “Who wears that much lip gloss into battle?” she asked in a recent memoir, “The Princess Diarist.”

Having seen fame’s light and dark sides, Ms. Fisher did not take it too seriously, or consider it an enduring commodity.

As she wrote in “The Princess Diarist”:

“Perpetual celebrity — the kind where any mention of you will interest a significant percentage of the public until the day you die, even if that day comes decades after your last real contribution to the culture — is exceedingly rare, reserved for the likes of Muhammad Ali.”

Carrie Frances Fisher was born on Oct. 21, 1956, in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was the first child of her highly visible parents (they later had a son, Todd), and said in “Wishful Drinking” that, while her mother was under anesthetic delivering her, her father fainted.

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