Tuesday, December 27, Carrie Fisher, who will always be–to me and many others–Princess (and General) Leia Organa, passed away. She suffered a heart attack on a flight into Los Angeles on the previous Friday. While beginning to write this, I wiped tears out of my eyes, set my fingers on my keyboard, paused, typed a few words, then repeated.
Carrie’s Leia meant a lot to me. I was 14 when Star Wars premiered and I had never seen anything like it–or her. It took a few years before I realized how much I wanted to be like the woman–I doubt I knew she was only a few years older than me–in the movie, especially the final scene. She was beautiful; she didn’t take anything off anybody; she was intelligent, witty, and clever. Me? I was a bit overweight, I wasn’t popular. (In the middle and high schools of the ’70s, it wasn’t socially acceptable for boys, much less girls, to like science fiction and fantasy.) A few years later, when Return of the Jedi came out, I learned that Leia and I were both adopted–that was so cool. (Hence, my fondness for Bail Organa.)
Carrie Fisher has been called the “daughter of Hollywood royalty” but that didn’t mean she had an easy life. Shortly after I saw Star Wars for the first time, my dad told me about her parents. Her mother star Debbie Reynolds and her father, singer Eddie Fisher, divorced when he became involved with Elizabeth Taylor. I wouldn’t learn more about her home life for years, not until after I had kids. I read her memoir, Wishful Drinking. It is funny and sad at the same time and definitely NSFW. Most of us have known for a long time of her struggles with mental illness, drugs, and failed relationships.
But I don’t want to dwell on all that. She did so many cool things. After the Original Trilogy, she became a writer, starting with Postcards From the Edge. I didn’t know until today that she also wrote for several TV shows as well as doing uncredited writing or script doctoring on some well-known movies. Wishful Drinking started as a popular one-woman play. After Star Wars she had supporting roles in movies as diverse as When Harry Met Sally and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery. And I loved all the pictures of her with her French bulldog Gary.
Then, just a year ago, she returned to the Galaxy Far, Far Away! She even predicted that, sort of. As a high schooler, I saw an episode of The Mike Douglas Show (an entertainment-oriented daytime talk show) that she guested on. At this time, Lucas had been quoted as saying there would be 9 movies and Mike and Carrie were talking about her as an older Leia. Carrie said she’d probably have grey hair and a desk job! My first exposure to her sense of humor–surely Broadcast Standards of the day kept my vocabulary from being expanded. And now I am smiling a little.
In closing, I would like to offer my condolences to her family and friends, especially her Star Wars casts and crew, who knew her so much better than this fan. Godspeed and May the Force Be With You Always, Carrie.
Edit: This was written Tuesday night, and, Wednesday night, Carrie’s mother Debbie Reynolds, passed away, hours after suffering a stroke. I truly believe she died of a broken heart and this daughter and mother are now together forever. Again, my condolences to their family and friends.
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