2016 couldn't end without taking one more person of creative talent from us. Carrie Fisher, a bestselling novelist, and well-known actress, died on December 27 of the complications involving a heart attack. She was on a plane going from London to Los Angeles when they had to land the plane and take her to a hospital. As a successful performer, writer and advocate for those struggling with mental illness and drug addiction, Fisher's death represents one more shining star going dim in this crappy year we call 2016.
Carrie Fisher at the Screen Actor's Guild Awards in 2015.
Born in 1956 in Beverly Hills, CA, Fisher came into this world "virtually unattended" as her mother Debbie Reynolds was heavily sedated and her father Eddie Fisher passed out as Carrie was born. She grew up surrounded by Hollywood glamour as the daughter of a famous actress and singer. Fisher's family went through some turmoil in early childhood when Mr. Fisher Left Ms. Reynolds for actress Elizabeth Taylor. They divorced as Mr. Fisher married Liz Taylor later that year.
Fisher began her acting career early at age 17 as the character Lorna in the film "Shampoo" about love-obsessed hairdresser in the late 1970's.
But it was at the age of 19 when Fisher began her role as Princess Leia Skywalker Organa in the "Star Wars" franchise created by George Lucas. The character Princess Leia kicked butt in a dress, bikini, and general's uniform in first the three original Star Wars movies (now known as episodes IV, V and VI). Fisher also starred in the sequel 21st century film "The Force Awakens" (also known as episode VII) in which Fisher played an older and wiser Leia who leads the continued rebellion and finds out that her son Kylo Ren played by Adam Driver killed his father and Leia's former flame Han Solo as played by Harrison Ford. For other Star Wars lovers out there, I was pleased to find out that Fisher finished her work in episode VIII as Princess Leia of the franchise before passing away.
It was during her time in the Star Wars films that Fisher began her long journey as a manic depressive (also known as bipolar disorder) and drug addict. Throughout the 1970's and 1980's, Fisher was regularly abusing pills as well as cocaine, LSD, and painkillers. She initially attributed this to her privileged upbringing, telling herself that she had no impulse control after having been spoiled as a child, but doctors told her that it was because she had bipolar disorder. This mental illness involved sporadic mood swings of steep highs and unfathomable lows. In the same ABC interview cited above, Fisher would later describe her two moods as the following:
"I have two moods... One is Roy, rollicking Roy, the wild ride of a mood. And Pam, sediment Pam, who stands on the shore and sobs … Sometimes the tide is in, sometimes it’s out."
It was after a nearly fatal drug overdose and 30-day trip to rehab in 1985 that Fisher began cleaning up her act and advocating for those with mental illnesses. Before her death, Fisher was on medication to regulate the chemicals that influenced her mood. Rather than being ashamed, Fisher spoke loudly and proudly about her dealings with mental health. Quoted in the same ABC interview, Fisher once stated that, "I am mentally ill. can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that. I am still surviving it, but bring it on.”
Fisher used her experiences as subject matter for the media she produced including Postcards from the Edge (1987), Wishful Drinking (2006, a play), and Princess Diarist (2016). She was a regular writer on Twitter, often thanking her fans and calling people on their bullshit about Star Wars.
Thank you guys for helping make my book a best seller...〰ℹ✝️♓️🅾️⛎✝️ ✌🏻️🅾️⛎ ℹ 〰🅾️⛎🕒d 🌶⛎💲✝️ 🅱️📧🅰️ 〰ℹ📧®d ©♓️ℹ©🎋 ℹ️♑️ 🅰️ ♓️🅰️✝️👷🏼♀️👲🏼👮🏾🎅🏼👳👸🏼🙋🏼 pic.twitter.com/X46SgyknP9
— Carrie Fisher (@carrieffisher) December 1, 2016
For those of you who don't speak emoji, the Tweet says, "Thank you guys for helping make my book a best seller... WIthout you I would just be a weird chick in a hat."
In addition, Fisher was a successful screenwriter having worked on the film "Hook" and "The Wedding Singer".
Unfortunately, Fisher's death was met with another passing that hit many close to home. Fisher's mother Debbie Reynolds passed away a day after her daughter at the age of 84. And to add more heartbreak, Reynolds' last words were supposedly, "I want to be with Carrie." The pair performed together when Carrie was young. Again, thanks so much 2016 for taking away everything that is good.