Thousands of people throughout the world are mourning the recent loss of the iconic and much loved Carrie Fisher, aka Princess Leia.
The feisty rebel princess who battled an evil galactic empire and saw her peaceful homeworld of Alderaan shattered in an instant, had her own battles to overcome in real life.
She may have been our princess from a galaxy far, far away and a hairstyle just as “out there” but she was as down to earth as possible in her manner, and never allowed fame to place her in a gilded cage. She was one of us and she had a deep curiosity about the world around her. As a child her famous family called her “the bookworm” as she took refuge in books. She loved reading the classics and writing poetry.
Carrie Frances Fisher was born on 21 October 1956, so she was a Libran. In my experience Librans almost always display a strong sense of justice and compassion.
Despite being short (5’1” or 1.55m) her personality more than made up for her lack of centimetres, proving that a person’s size isn’t important if you have a great heart. She never saw any reason for pretence and saw through the facade of Hollywood. She also demonstrated how when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. She had a sharp sense of humour and could also laugh at herself – always a useful quality!
She achieved fame not only as an actress but as a brilliant and witty writer and a voice for mental health issues.
She was always quite open about her struggles with cocaine and prescription drugs addiction. She accidentally overdosed on sleeping pills and other medication in 1985 and was rushed to hospital.
Years later she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. For four years she refused to accept the diagnosis but began attending support groups. Once she had come to terms with her condition she spoke about her experiences with it at the American Psychiatric Association annual meeting in New York City in May 2004.
Here are some of her insights into the challenges of living with bipolar:
She saw her challenges as an opportunity to reach out to others in the same boat and encourage them to be the best man, woman or child they can be.
Four years ago Carrie acquired a French bulldog named Gary as an emotional support animal, and took her beloved new friend to many an interview and public appearance. Handsome and affectionate Gary has thousands of followers and admirers of his own. Carrie’s daughter Billie Lourd will be looking after Gary now that his mama is no longer with him. Here’s Gary with Billie:
You can find out more about Gary Fisher here:
Carrie’s mother Debbie enjoyed a very close relationship with her daughter, both stars in their own right. However, they were not always as close as in the last few years; in fact they were estranged for quite a long time before addressing their differences and shortcomings, and reconciling.
Debbie achieved fame in 1952 with her performance in Singin In the Rain and also starred in 1964’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown among numerous others.
The groundbreaking Star Wars, her second movie, would make Carrie a household name following its release in 1977.
She had a brief fling with co-star Harrison Ford during the filming of Star Wars.
She had a narrow escape during the filming of The Blues Brothers (1980). During a meal on the set she began choking on a Brussels sprout and co-star Dan Aykroyd had to perform the Heimlich maneuver on her. They also briefly got engaged at this time, but she decided to return to musician husband Paul Simon, whom she’d been dating since 1977. They got married in 1983 and stayed married for just under a year before finally going their separate ways.
1980 also saw her return as Leia in The Empire Strikes Back. Leia once again graced the screen in Return of the Jedi (1983) where she first appears to rescue the one she loves, and later had to wear a golden metal bikini when taken captive by the corrupt Jabba the Hutt.
Carrie and Paul broke up and she had a relationship with talent agent Brian Lourd, with whom she had her only daughter Billie, who was born on 17 July 1992.
She published several semi-autobiographical books, the first of which was Postcards from the Edge (1987).
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” – an insightful quote from her book Wishful Drinking (2008)
She appeared in numerous other movies and also became a talented scriptwriter and “script doctor”, salvaging assorted scripts by others which seemed on the verge of unthreading.
She returned as a maturer General Leia Organa in 2015 in The Force Awakens and in its follow-ups which are in final stages of production.
A full list of her movies can be found here:
Her memoir, appropriately titled The Princess Diarist, about her experiences during the original Star Wars trilogy, was published in November 2016.
In December she was on set with the third season of British sitcom Catastrophe and had just completed a promotional tour of Europe for her latest book. On Friday 23 December she flew home to Los Angeles for a Christmas break. Her loyal companion Gary had his own seat on the transatlantic flight.
Toward the end of the flight she suffered a heart attack. A paramedic team met the plane at the airport and rushed her to hospital where she was put on life support but died on Tuesday 27th, aged 60.
The day after Carrie’s death mother Debbie suffered a severe stroke just fifteen minutes after saying that she wanted to be reunited with Carrie. They were making funeral plans. She too was rushed to a medical facility. She too passed from this world a few hours later, too broken hearted to stay apart. She wanted nothing more in life than to take care of her beloved daughter.
Their lives are celebrated in the 2016 documentary Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
Referring to a chat on set with George Lucas during the filming of Star Wars, in which he said that someone wearing a bra or other underwear in space would end up getting choked because of their body expanding but not their underwear, Carrie coined the remark “I want it reported that she drowned in moonlight, choked by her own bra.”
This surreal image can only be truly appreciated by those who have a keen imagination and ready wit.
Long live the Princess!
Here is some more of her sound advice from personal experience regarding bipolar disorder: