It seems 2016 is not through with us. Reports are coming in that Carrie Fisher, who was hospitalized after a heart attack on Friday, has passed away. She was 60.
Ms. Fisher, of course, is best remembered in the genre world for her role as Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars films (and records and TV specials and so on). Ironically, this role is only a very minor slice of a long and varied show business career, and there are many who will remember not the princess, but the smart, funny and extremely gifted writer.
Born of a showbiz family to Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, she got her first TV role at age 14 on her mother’s The Sound of Children special. Her first real breakout role was as Lorna in the 1977 Warren Beatty vehicle Shampoo. It was two years later when, at age 21, she took the role that was to define her in the eyes of fans everywhere.
Sadly, it was this role, and the fame that it brought her, that began her cycle of substance abuse and exacerbated her mental health issues (she later stated that, had she known the role of Leia would have brought her the fame that made her parents’ lives so stressful, she would have turned it down). She spent the late seventies and early eighties self-medicating in an attempt to temper her bipolar disorder. It was an overdose in 1985 that landed her in hospital which inspired her to write her first novel, Postcards from the Edge. Detailing her harrowing time in rehab, it was later made into a movie by the same name. When asked why she did not play the protagonist in the movie version, she replied that she already had.
There followed three more novels: Surrender the Pink (1990), Delusions of Grandma (1993), and The Best Awful There Is (2004), inspired by the time her former partner Bryan Lourd left her for another man. She also wrote multiple memoirs including Wishful Drinking (2008, also a play) and The Princess Diarist from this year.
Her most prolific work, however, seems to be behind the scenes: from the early nineties, Ms Fisher established herself as a “script doctor”, applying her wit and ear for dialogue to various television and movie scripts. Among the more notable productions that benefited from her pen are Hook (1991), The Last Action Hero (1993), The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles (1992), and all 3 of the Star Wars prequels.
She is survived by her ex-husband Paul Simon, and her daughter Billie Lourd.
(Kelly Luck always liked her as the vengeful ex-fiancee in The Blues Brothers. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.)