Fisher died Tuesday morning after suffering what was described as a massive heart attack on Friday while on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She had been in London filming episodes of the Amazon/Channel 4 comedy “Catastrophe.” Fisher was rushed from Los Angeles International Airport to UCLA Medical Center after the plane landed around noon PT.
Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, confirmed the death on Tuesday: “It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” the statement reads. “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly.”
Fisher was the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, whose marriage famously broke up when Eddie Fisher had an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. She often remarked that she was born in the spotlight, and her life and career reflected the highs and lows of the entertainment business. Her mother’s career struggles after her 1950s heyday weighed heavily on Fisher.
“I grew up on the back side of show business. So I had no desire to go into it. It had beat up my mother,” Fisher told the New York Times in 2006. “I had a front-and-center view of how that hurt her. I understood that when they were done with you, they were done.”
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Fisher demonstrated her skill as a writer with the best-selling 1987 novel “Postcards From the Edge,” about an actress struggling to rebuild her career after an overdose. Fisher wrote the screenplay for the 1990 film adaptation, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.
Fisher also penned the autobiographical 2008 book “Wishful Drinking,” based on her one-woman stage show of the same name. She had recently been promoting her newly published memoir of her “Star Wars” years, “The Princess Diarist.”
In her writing and in public, Fisher was revealing about her battles with drugs and mental health issues. Her outspokenness about addiction earned her a lifetime achievement award from Harvard College in 2016 for cultural humanitarianism.
After her parents divorced when she was 2, Fisher was estranged from her father for decades until she became his caretaker prior to his death in 2010.
Fisher got her start in the family business at age 15, when she appeared alongside Reynolds in the 1973 Broadway revival of “Irene.” Two years later she made her film debut in the hit comedy “Shampoo” starring Warren Beatty, Julie Christie and Goldie Hawn.
But it was 1977’s “Star Wars,” later re-titled “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope” that brought Fisher international recognition. Cloaked in white with her hair parted and tucked into two spiral side twists, the now-legendary character Princess Leia first appeared in the film as the fearless leader of the planet Alderaan, agent of the Rebel Alliance and member of the Imperial Senate.
Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger said in a statement, “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.”
The film earned six Oscars and launched a franchise of epic proportions. Two sequels followed “A New Hope” — “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980 and “Return of the Jedi” in 1983 — to form what is now known as the original trilogy. Three prequels were released years later between 1999 and 2005, in which Fisher did not participate. Then, when a sequel trilogy was announced starting with 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” the actress re-joined the series.
In November 2016, Fisher revealed that while filming the original “Star Wars” she had a three-month affair with her co-star Harrison Ford, who was then married to Mary Marquardt. “It was so intense,” Fisher said of the secret affair. “It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend.”
Following the original “Star Wars” trilogy, Fisher had a steady career in Hollywood, consistently appearing in films and television, though never in roles with the same global visibility as George Lucas’ creation. Starting in the early 1990s, Fisher became a much sought-after script doctor for films.
Her performance in Nora Ephron’s 1989 romantic comedy “When Harry Met Sally” opposite Bruno Kirby was a standout performance, as was her role the same year in “The ‘Burbs,” a black comedy starring Tom Hanks. More recently, her guest shot on NBC’s “30 Rock” earned her an Emmy nomination in 2008. Her guest role as the caustic mother, Mia, on “Catastrophe” also earned good notices.
Her other notable film performances include “The Blues Brothers” (1980), “Garbo Talks” (1984), “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1990), “Soapdish” (1991), “Austin Powers” (1997) and “Scream 3” (2000). Her many TV appearances included guest shots on “Frasier,” “Sex and the City,” “Entourage,” “Smallville,” “Weeds,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.” Fisher was a semi-regular voice actor on Fox’s “Family Guy,” as the boss of the brewery where patriarch Peter Griffin works.
As a writer, Fisher wrote episodes of “Roseanne” and “Young Indiana Jones.” She co-wrote the 2001 ABC TV movie “These Old Broads,” which starred Reynolds, Taylor, MacLaine and Joan Collins as actresses enjoying a sudden career revival. Fisher’s stage show “Wishful Drinking” became a 2010 HBO special that earned an Emmy nomination for variety, music or comedy special.
Fisher’s personal life was also tumultuous. She began dating musician Paul Simon in 1977 and married him in 1983, but the union lasted less than a year. Fisher had one child, daughter Billie Catherine Lourd in 1992, with CAA managing partner Bryan Lourd. Fisher’s relationship with Lourd ended in 1994 and, although they were never married, Fisher frequently referred to Lourd in interviews as her second husband. She was candid in her writing and elsewhere about the emotional experience of having Lourd leave her for a man.
In addition to her mother and daughter, Fisher’s survivors include a brother, Todd.
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