Carrie Fisher, who, at age 19, shot to international stardom playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars trilogy, was declared dead this morning.
On Friday, Dec. 23, Fisher had a massive heart attack on board a London-to-L.A. commercial flight and was rushed to L. A. Medical Center. Reportedly, her heart had stopped for some 10 minutes before an EMT, who was on board in coach, managed to restore a pulse. We were told she was put on a ventilator and, after a stint in ER, was in Intensive Care in “stable condition”. She never regained consciousness.
In truth, she likely had died on December 23, and was artificially kept alive by a ventilator until she was formally declared dead this morning.
Fisher was only 18 months old when her adulterous father, singer Eddie Fisher, left her and her mom, Debbie Fisher, for Elizabeth Taylor.
Quite apart from Star Wars, Carrie Fisher was an accomplished and very witty author of biographical and fictional books, in which she was honest about her drug addiction (cocaine, alcohol, and prescription meds), bipolar disorder, and her weight gain and loss in a Hollywood fixated on looks.
I am an unabashed fan of Star Wars — and all stories, like Lord of the Rings, of brave people fighting the good fight against evil, which inspire us to be better people than we are and from which we draw encouragement when we lose hope. As J.R.R. Tolkien put it, speaking through Samwise Gamgee in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers:
“By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo, the ones that really matter, full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was, when so much bad happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing–the shadow–even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you, that meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances to turn back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding onto something–that there’s some good in the world, Mr. Frodo, and that’s worth fighting for.”
Carrie Fisher’s gutsy Princess Leia did that — for generations of young girls. She once told the Los Angeles Times:
“I remember the first time it was weird to me was when someone wanted to thank me because they’d become a lawyer because of me. The main thing they said is that they identified with me. I felt like that [Princess Leia] was somebody that could be heroic without being a superhero and be relatable.”
Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. To borrow a fan (and LA Times reader) mark00000352’s words:
“You are now in the stars where we first met you.”
UPDATE (Dec. 28, 2016):
Carrie Fisher reportedly had a drug relapse before death. (Page Six)