Carrie Fisher died on Tuesday, 12/27, another casualty of this bitch-of-a-year 2016 (her mom, Debbie Reynolds, a star in her own right, died just one day later!). Carrie was 60 and had suffered a heart attack while flying back from London a week before, and never recovered.
Princess Leia to legions of fans, a wry and witty personality and an almost-too-honest-for some author, Fisher was also a mental health advocate attacking prejudices and fighting for substance abuse issues her entire adult life.
In Fishers case, as she chronicled in a few memoirs (some fictionalized, some not) the self-medicating she did (drug taking and drinking) were her way of trying to deal with her mania…as it is for many. By her late 20’s she was properly and specifically diagnosed, sought the right kind of help and worked hard at keeping herself at an even keel…and became a wry yet determined advocate for destigmatizing mental health. In her usual erasable style, Fisher once quipped to WebMD that in being the seeming poster child for bipolar disorder she was “…hoping to get the centerfold in Psychology Today.” But laying her struggles out for Diana Sawyer, in a more serious tone, she said: “I used to think I was a drug addict, pure and simple — just someone who could not stop taking drugs willfully. And I was that. But it turns out that I am severely manic depressive.”
Coming to mainstream prominence with Star Wars, Carrie Fisher will always be the quick- talking, no-nonsense Princess Leia Organa, a major player in bringing down the dreaded EMPIRE. But as she was on screen, off it, Carrie Fisher was a feminist icon in all ways possible.
Carrie Fisher easily could have fit a really predictable mold — a pretty girl who played a princess in a movie once. But she always insisted on being more than that,” said Sady Doyle, author of “Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock and Fear.”
“She just never let anyone make her smaller or less complex than she was; she owned herself, and that’s one of the most important and difficult feminist projects there is.”
In recent years, she balked at the preoccupation with her physical appearance on the big screen, especially when her male counterparts rarely, if ever, are subjected to the same level of scrutiny.
Fisher made headlines for appearing on screen in “The Force Awakens” at 59 without the aid of age-defying CGI effects, although she did acknowledge that producers pressured her to lose 35 pounds before returning to her legendary role.
“I’m in a business where the only thing that matters is weight and appearance. That is so messed up,” she told The Hollywood Reporter at the time. “They might as well say ‘get younger,’ because that’s how easy it is.”
“Drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra” was Fisher’s a self-penned one-line obituary. Talking about the time Star Wars director George Lucas reminded her that Princess Leia couldn’t be seen wearing underwear under her icon long white gown, Fisher learned that one’s body expands in space, but one’s bra wouldn’t…thus a lady might indeed get strangled by her undergarment.
A fitting last line from such a special strong lady.