Carrie Fisher, the daughter of show-biz royalty who became the iconic Princess Leia Organa in the “Star Wars” movies, died Tuesday. She was 60 years old.
Fisher was flying from London to Los Angeles on Friday, when she went into cardiac arrest and was removed from the flight by paramedics. She was rushed to a hospital and later reported in stable condition but died Tuesday at 8:55 a.m., according to a statement released on behalf of her daughter, Billie Lourd.
“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly,” the statement read. “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”
News of Fisher’s illness and death spread fast on Twitter, where words of support from her “Star Wars” colleagues over the weekend turned to expressions of grief Tuesday. “No words,” wrote Mark Hamill, who played the farm-boy Luke Skywalker to Fisher’s Leia in the “Star Wars” series, adding “#devastated.” Billy Dee Williams, who starred opposite Fisher as the space-swinger Lando Calrissian, posted, “She was a dear friend, whom I greatly respected and admired. The force is dark today!”
Fisher’s post-“Star Wars” career was a long and varied one that included appearances in roughly two dozen movies, notably the comedy hit “When Harry Met Sally . . . ” and Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters”; several novels; a one-woman Broadway show called “Wishful Drinking,” based on her memoir; and uncredited work as a script-doctor on such comedies as “Sister Act” and “The Wedding Singer,” according to reports. Fisher’s struggles with drug addiction and alcoholism became fodder for her novel “Postcards From the Edge,” which she turned into a screenplay for the 1990 movie starring Meryl Streep. Fisher also became known as a dependably engaging interview who spoke of her problems — fluctuating weight, bi-polar disorder, advancing age — with honesty and humor.
Carrie Frances Fisher was born Oct. 21, 1956, in Beverly Hills, to two of the era’s most prominent celebrities: Debbie Reynolds, the dancer-actress whose credits include “Singin’ in the Rain,” and Eddie Fisher, the singer and teen idol. They divorced in 1959, when their daughter was barely a toddler, but the teenage Carrie Fisher followed them into the entertainment world, starring alongside her mother in a Broadway revival of “Irene” in 1973. Following a role in 1975’s “Shampoo,” starring Warren Beatty, Fisher appeared in the movie that would change and define her life.
Fisher was just 19 when she filmed “Star Wars,” whose 1977 release lodged her instantly and permanently into the public imagination as the pretty, brave, strong-willed Princess Leia. Dressed in virginal white with her hair plaited into massive twin buns — and, later, in a racy gold bikini with slave-chains — Fisher’s Leia became a sci-fi pin-up for generations of adolescent boys, even as her acerbic wit and take-charge attitude made her a favorite Halloween costume for girls.
On the set of “Star Wars,” Fisher had an affair with Harrison Ford, her then-married co-star, who played the space-cowboy Han Solo. Later, she began an on-again-off-again relationship with the singer Paul Simon that continued even after their divorce in 1984. She was also briefly engaged to the actor Dan Aykroyd. Fisher had one child, Billie, with the talent agent Bryan Lourd, her husband from 1991-94.
Fisher’s greatest triumphs were personal as well as professional. She overcame drug addiction, survived a 1985 overdose of prescription medication, endured electro-convulsive therapy and eventually used her fame as a platform to raise awareness of mental illness.
Fisher remained gracious and good-humored about her never-ending identification with Leia Organa, reprising the role in 2015’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Her digitally rendered image appears in 2016’s “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
“I am Princess Leia, no matter what,” she once told the website WebMD. “If I were trying to get a good table, I wouldn’t say I wrote ‘Postcards.’ Or, if I’m trying to get someone to take my check and I don’t have ID, I wouldn’t say: ‘Have you seen ‘Harry Met Sally?’ Princess Leia will be on my tombstone.”