Carrie Fisher Dead at 60

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Dec 27, 2016, 12:57 PM EST

It is with incredible sadness that we write that Carrie Fisher -- perhaps best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise -- has passed away.

A family spokesperson released a statement from Fisher's daughter, actress Billie Lourd: 

“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. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

The 60-year-old Fisher had been overseas in the middle of a career renaissance. She tweeted on Dec. 19 that she was filming the series Catastrophe, and she was also on a book tour promoting her latest book, The Princess Diarist. The autobiography included a blockbuster revelation that caused a massive disturbance in the Force: Fisher revealed that she and co-star Harrison Ford had an affair while filming the original Star Wars. “It was Han and Leia, during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend,” Fisher wrote about the short but intense relationship.

The book features the trademark honesty and bluntness that made Fisher a bestselling author.

After her relatively brief appearance in The Force Awakens, Fisher's character, General Leia Organa, was expected to play a much more significant role in the next Star Wars movie, Episode VIII.  According to TMZ, who spoke with a Lucasfilm rep, all of Leia's scenes for Episode VIII had been shot. 

Carrie Fisher was born in 1956, to parents Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. The two were Hollywood royalty, and being born a showbiz baby would eventually be a theme Fisher would revisit often later in life. She made her movie debut as a teenager in Warren Beatty’s 1975 comedy Shampoo. A year later, she would land what would be the role of a lifetime: Princess Leia Organa in George Lucas’ space opera Star Wars

The film became the biggest phenomenon the motion picture industry had ever seen. Fisher’s performance as Leia, the bun-haired leader of the Rebellion, made her not just a hero to countless young girls and boys who loved the film and the tie-in action figures, but also somewhat of a feminist icon. In A New Hope and the sequel The Empire Strikes Back, Leia took charge, barked orders and gave as good as she got. She also dressed in clothes that were famously conservative. George Lucas reportedly had her tape down her breasts in the first film. Of course, Fisher would later birth the "Slave Leia" controversy with her metal bikini look in Return of the Jedi.

Fame would prove to be an ongoing struggle for Fisher. She was open and honest about her struggles with substance abuse. She admitted to doing cocaine while filming The Empire Strikes Back. In 1985, she overdosed on a mix of prescription medication and sleeping pills. That incident helped spur the book that would launch the next phase of her career, as a bestselling writer. Postcards From The Edge would become a NY Times bestseller. The novel was a thinly-disguised dramatization of Fisher’s life — especially her personal struggles and strained relationship with her mother — told through the character of Suzanne. Fisher would later write the screenplay for the film version, which starred Meryl Streep. 

Fisher would continue to act into the 1990s, often playing the scene-stealing supporting player in films such as When Harry Met Sally, The ‘Burbs, Drop Dead Fred and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.  But it was as a writer that she would seem to truly find her stride in the second phase of her career. 

Her openness about her struggled with substance abuse and growing up in the harsh spotlight of Hollywood -- she was just 20 when she filmed A New Hope, remember — fueled many of her books and even a later Broadway play, Wishful Drinking.  She also happened to be one of the industry’s most sought-after script doctors. Some of the screenplays Fisher reportedly helped sharpen up included Hook, Lethal Weapon 3, Sister Act, So I Married An Ax Murderer, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, and the Star Wars prequels for her old friend George Lucas. Lucas, in fact, also had Fisher do uncredited work on the script for his early 90s TV series, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles

While playing as iconic a role as Princess Leia can often be suffocating for an actor, Fisher never seemed to dismiss it or seem unhappy about being tied so completely to a single character. As was her habit, she often summed up her attitude towards Leia with some humor.  During a 2015 interview, she said, “People want me to say that I’m sick of playing Leia and that it ruined my life. If my life was that easy to ruin, it deserved to be ruined.”

In one interview from over a decade ago, she talked about how her daughter Billie liked using a Princess Leia notebook for school. Whenever she would run out of one, Fisher told the interviewer she would dial up Lucas and ask him to go dig in to the massive Lucasfilm archives to scrounge up a Leia notebook for her daughter, and sure enough, Lucas would find one for her. 

Fisher was always savvy enough to understand the perks that come with being a Star Wars legend also comes with some power to make people think.

 In the run-up to the release of The Force Awakens, Fisher talked openly about how she was pressured to lose weight to return to the franchise. After all she’d been through in life, she clearly did not mind putting the screws to Disney with some public chiding. In doing so, she gained even more admiration from women and men for taking on Hollywood and its inherent bias against woman and aging.  Once more, Princess Leia blazed the trail.

The daughter of two Hollywood legends lived a life right out of classic Tinseltown, full of scandals, success, flameouts and second chances. She also proved to be a role model to countless young girls who saw in her performance as Princess Leia that women didn’t need to wait to be rescued by Jedi Knights and scoundrels. She showed them that women could grab the damn blaster and create their own escape hatch. 

Goodbye, Carrie Fisher. So many of us will always admire and love you. But then again, you know that.