Fans around the world are in mourning today with the news that actress, screenwriter and activist Carrie Fisher – best known for playing Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars movie franchise – has passed away at the age of 60 from complications arising from a heart attack that she suffered over the winter holiday weekend while on an airline flight from London to Los Angeles. Though many fans had held out hope for several days as the actress’s condition was reported to have moved from critical to stable at multiple junctures, she did not ultimately recover.
The Fisher family spokesman Simon Halls has released the following statement on behalf of Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd, regarding Carrie Fisher’s passing:
“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning. She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly.”
Lourd also issued her own statement (via PEOPLE) to her mother’s many fans, friends and long-standing supporters, saying “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”
Born in 1956 to dancer/actress Debbie Reynolds and entertainer Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher grew up in and around the world of show business but did not formally enter the trade herself until 1973 alongside her mother in the Broadway revival of Irene. In 1975 she made her feature film debut in the infamous Warren Beatty vehicle Shampoo before being cast as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars – a role that would (for better or for worse) come to define her persona in the public imagination for many years after. She reprised the role in the direct sequels The Empire Strikes Back and Return of The Jedi, along with the Star Wars Holiday Special, and most recently returned to the character in The Force Awakens.
However, while Star Wars will likely remain the work most commonly associated with her name in the popular culture, Fisher continued to have a prolific career on multiple fronts of the entertainment industry. She made memorable appearances in the comedy classic The Blues Brothers, Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters and the hit romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally. In the 1990s and early 2000s, she re-emerged as a popular figure for cameos and guest-appearances, often making light of her more famous roles with guest spots in pop-reference focused projects like Kevin Smith’s Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back and Fanboys.
Fisher also found success over several decades as a writer, authoring the popular novel Postcards From The Edge, Surrender The Pink and Delusions of Grandma among others. Among her less publicly-heralded roles (particularly outside of the film industry) was as one of Hollywood’s most sought-after “script-doctors,” having been known to contribute improvements and touch-ups to a diverse array of films such as The Wedding Singer, Lethal Weapon 3, The Mirror Has Two Faces, Last Action Hero, Sister Act and many others – even including the second and third installments of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel trilogy.
Fisher was also an outspoken advocate for mental health and substance abuse causes, speaking candidly about her struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder; emerging as a vocal champion and activist against the stigma of mental illness. She detailed such issues further in her best-selling memoir Wishful Drinking; an adaptation of her revealing one woman stage show that was subsequently revived for an extended run on Broadway in 2010. A follow-up memoir centering on her experiences while filming the original Star Wars trilogy, The Princess Diarist, was released in 2016 to critical acclaim.
R.I.P. Carrie Frances Fisher: October 21st, 1956 – December 27th, 2016