As I began this piece, I didn't know that Debbie Reynolds was fighting for her own life...or was she? Many, including myself, think Debbie died of a broken heart mourning over the death of her beloved daughter, Carrie. Carrie Fisher, like her mother, was a household name once she portrayed Princess Leia in the Star Wars series.
Carrie was a role model for girls age 6 to 60 who saw Star Wars and wanted to be a strong, empowered woman like the character she owned, Princes Leia. She was the fantasy girl of every male as well. Tough, witty, and smoldering in every scene. Even in the latest release in the Star Wars series, "The Force Awakens", Carrie had lost no charisma as Leia. She was still as convincing as she was in the 1977 series debut, "Star Wars". She was the one and only ever to portray Princess Leia.
It was refreshing and relieving to see her back in the limelight and doing well. As a child of the 80's, I was a huge fan and as time passed and I learned of her battles I was always rooting for her to win.
Carrie Fisher was born to well known television personalities Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. Eddie Fisher was known for hosting popular television shows during the 50s & 60s. Reynolds had a long resume in film before gaining even more popularity hosting television shows, like her husband, in the 60s. Reynolds was loved for her singing performances and irresistible charm. Carrie was their first born child and would quickly become the apple of her mother's eye.
The couple divorced when Carrie was only a toddler and she was raised predominantly by her mother. Carrie's talent became more evident as the years passed and at age 15 she landed a role on broadway that would eventually have her drop out of school to pursue a career in show business full time. Following this, Carrie would travel abroad to receive an education in drama and acting.
She gained her first major role in 1975 as Lorna in the motion picture smash "Shampoo". Shorty after this, she landed the role of a lifetime when she met with George Lucas and was chosen to be Princess Leia.
Getting that role of a lifetime was both a blessing and a curse for Carrie. She has even stated
that she would've turned down the role of Leia had she been aware of the celebrity effect it would have on her.
The Celebrity Effect is something I do not envy. I have seen it take many lives. I have seen many people pass judgement on celebrities who fall, who fail, who die too young. We, the general public, cannot fathom the responsibility and pressure that comes with being a household name like Carrie Fisher had become.
She battled addiction, like so many before and after her. She needed medication to escape pain, uppers to work, downers to rest afterward, and more ways to block the pain. The early 80s were overflowing with opportunity for Carrie and she denied none. Starring in several motion pictures and still performing on Broadway as well, Carrie realized she was doing drugs at an alarming rate and that things needed to change. After months of sobriety, Carried accidentally overdosed in 1985 and was rushed to the hospital to be saved. This experience would inspire her best selling novel and screenplay "Postcards from the Edge".
Carrie would battle addiction and the damage to her health caused by years of drug abuse for most of her life until finally dying at age 60. Carrie was in intensive care for 4 days after a medical emergency caused her to receive CPR during a flight and be rushed to a hospital immediately upon landing. The next day Debbie, her mother, was quoted saying "I want to be with Carrie" before having a stroke and passing on.
Although Carrie Fisher is best known for her role as Princess Leia and her best selling book "Postcards from the Edge", she has been in several films and her favorite book of mine is "Wishful Drinking".
Many times you see people on social media questioning why we mourn celebrities as they are not our friends are family, but you see they actually are. Earlier this year we lost our Prince, who taught my generation what sexy meant, how to be yourself and how to be courageous. Now we've lost our princess. She taught us about bravery, empowerment, wit and attitude. She was strong and powerful, yet femme. These are the people we looked up to. These people were our friends. The artists we listened to during the best of times and through the tears of teenage heartbreak, the actors and actresses who lit up the big screen with characters we could relate to so deeply. These people are very real parts of our lives and we mourn them because of what they represent to us.
It is perfectly fine to mourn the death of Carrie Fisher, our Princess, with me here today. This is a judgement free zone. I wanted to grow up to be Princess Leia too.