Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia Of Star Wars Fame, Dies At 60

Dec 27, 2016
Originally published on December 27, 2016 6:33 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Carrie Fisher died this morning at the age of 60. She had suffered a heart attack Friday while she was onboard a flight from London to Los Angeles. Fisher was an actress and a writer. She was best known by far for her role as Princess Leia in the "Star Wars" movies.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE")

CARRIE FISHER: (As Princess Leia Organa) I have placed information vital to the survival of the Rebellion into the memory systems of this R2 unit. My father will know how to retrieve it. You must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope.

SIEGEL: NPR's Andrew Limbong has this appreciation.

ANDREW LIMBONG, BYLINE: Carrie Fisher was 19 when she played Princess Leia Organa in the first "Star Wars" movie, playing a woman who just witnessed her entire planet disappear and still has to manage the guys who show up ostensibly to rescue her.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAR WARS: EPISODE IV - A NEW HOPE")

FISHER: (As Princess Leia Organa) I don't know who you are or where you came from, but from now on you do as I tell you, OK?

LIMBONG: It was here when Fisher started keeping a diary, the stuff that would later become her recent memoir, "The Princess Diarist." Earlier this year, she told WHYY'S Fresh Air that she kept a log partly because she was one of the only women on set.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

FISHER: I think I sort of felt isolated. You know, I didn't really have anyone - I didn't confide in men. Well, I didn't confide in anyone.

LIMBONG: From there, she and Princess Leia were forever tied. From a certain slant, that could be tragic. But after some time, she found humor in her devoted fan base. This is from her one-woman Broadway show turned 2010 HBO special called "Wishful Drinking."

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "WISHFUL DRINKING")

FISHER: And the guy behind the counter goes, aren't you? Yeah. He said, I thought about you every day from when I was 12 to when I was 22. And I said, every day?

(LAUGHTER)

FISHER: And he said, well, four times a day.

(LAUGHTER)

FISHER: What am I supposed to say, thank you?

(LAUGHTER)

LIMBONG: Carrie Fisher was born in 1956 to two huge stars, the singer Eddie Fisher and the award-winning actress Debbie Reynolds. Being born to two famous people who ended up famously divorcing, again, could be tragic. But time passes and it becomes funny.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "WISHFUL DRINKING")

FISHER: I grew up - I grew up knowing that I had the prettiest mother of anyone in my class. But, you know, my mom, she's also - she's a little bit eccentric. I mean, she does - she has a lot of unique ideas. For example, she thought that I should have a child with her last husband, Richard, because it would have nice eyes.

(LAUGHTER)

FISHER: I should probably explain this you before you think it's weird.

(LAUGHTER)

LIMBONG: After "Return Of The Jedi," she started writing books, beginning with the semi-autobiographical "Postcards From The Edge," which is about a movie actress who works to overcome her drug addiction. Fisher had a problem with drug abuse and was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder. She wrote the screenplay to the movie version of "Postcards," which came out in 1990, starring Meryl Streep.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE")

MERYL STREEP: (As Suzanne Vale) So what am I supposed to do? Go to a halfway house for wayward SAG members or something?

LIMBONG: Carrie Fisher was out and open about her issues with drugs and alcohol and mental illness and treatment. She told WHYY's Fresh Air that getting all of this out there and speaking about the baggage was a way for her to understand herself.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

FISHER: It creates community when you talk about private things and you can find other people that have the same things. Otherwise, I don't know, I felt very lonely with some of the issues that I had or history that I had. And when I shared about it, I found that others had it, too.

LIMBONG: Sharing for Carrie Fisher was a way to look at life's difficulties and figure things might be OK. Andrew Limbong, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.