Throughout this year, there have been too many celebrity deaths to name. Great people of even greater talent have been taken on what seems to be a weekly basis. Bowie, Prince, Rickman, Michael, and now Carrie Fisher are just a few. But today I want to talk about that last one.
Like many others I was introduced to Carrie Fisher through her role as Princess (later General) Leia Organa in the Star Wars franchise. Her role rocketed her to 70s and 80s stardom. She would go on to appear in numerous movies such as The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally, and The Burbs. She was an exceptional actress with a talent for humor. But in reading about her and her life it became clear to me that she was no ordinary person.
She was born on October 21, 1956 to Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, who were two of the most in demand performers of their time. Her upbringing was not a smooth one by any means. At the age of two her father left her mother to marry Elizabeth Taylor, and her relationship with him was always distant. Her mother had to work hard to maintain her acting career while raising Carrie and her brother. As a teenager Carrie loved to read and gained a reputation in her family as a bookworm. She would go on to act alongside her mother in the Broadway musical Irene. Soon after, she broke into acting on the big screen. Her love of reading would come in handy later as she became one of Hollywood’s unsung heroes. Her knack for humor and her astuteness helped her become one of the most sought after script doctors in the entire industry. The River Wild, Sister Act, Hook, and the Star Wars prequels were just a few of the films that she lent her talented hand to. She would later write best-selling novels and memoirs noted for their candor and wit.
In addition to drug and alcohol addiction, she also struggled with bipolar disorder. She was open about her experiences, and did more to make the public aware of the realities of being bipolar than any other celebrity or public figure. She was a fighter and an advocate. Through therapy, medication, and that signature sense of humor, she combatted an enemy so powerful that the Empire in all its might would turn tail and run. She never wanted sympathy, she simply wanted to help people, and that she did. By writing about her life in her memoirs, she gave some people a mirror and others insight into experiences that are widely misrepresented in the media. She proved to many that when all may seem lost there is always hope.
She showed generations of young girls that they could be anything they wanted to be; a princess, a politician, a friend, a general. A storyteller. By refusing to conform to people’s expectations, she helped widen the way for women in Hollywood. She was empowering in a way few have been before or since.
Carrie Fisher died December 27, 2016. She drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra. Rest in Peace.