After decades of fast living that her fearless Star Wars character Princess Leia would have struggled to keep up with, Carrie Fisher died Tuesday following a massive heart attack. She was 60.
The American actress, best-selling author and screenwriter — who suffered from numerous addictions she later turned into writing gold — was a member of Hollywood royalty, both on screen and off.
Born in Los Angeles in October 1956, the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher became an international star overnight with the release of Star Wars in 1977.
Leia was the tough rebel princess in a white dress with a strange hairdo and blaster guns, who was unafraid to stare down the villainous Darth Vader.
Six years later in Return of the Jedi, she became a sex symbol in a barely-there metal bikini — but remained the tough heroine, killing her slug-like gangster jailer Jabba the Hutt by choking him with the chain he used to hold her captive.
The blockbuster space saga is now part of pop culture legend and a worldwide fan favorite. Fisher was back in the spotlight after reprising her iconic role in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
She was returning Friday from the London leg of a tour promoting her headline-grabbing memoir The Princess Diarist when she collapsed 15 minutes before landing in Los Angeles, where paramedics and hospital staff were unable to revive her.
Tributes began pouring in soon after news of her death spread on social media, led by Star Wars co-stars Mark Hamill — Luke Skywalker in the saga. “It’s never easy to lose such a vital, irreplaceable member of the family, but this is downright heartbreaking,” he said. “Carrie was one-of-a-kind who belonged to us all — whether she liked it or not.”
Star Wars creator George Lucas called Fisher “extremely smart; a talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colorful personality that everyone loved.”
Steeped in Hollywood excess from an early age, she was the product of the four-year marriage between Reynolds, best known for her role in Singin’ In The Rain, and Fisher.
The relationship, and the happy home in Beverly Hills, came to an end when Fisher left Reynolds for her close friend, the actress Elizabeth Taylor.
The early 1980s were marked by problems with alcohol, drugs and depression for Fisher, who appeared in a number of critical flops, including Under the Rainbow (1981) and Hollywood Vice Squad (1986).
She was widely praised for her performance in the hit 1989 comedy When Harry Met Sally, but began to turn her back on acting in favor of writing.
She became known for her searingly honest semi-autobiographical writing, including her best-selling debut Postcards from the Edge, which she turned into a film of the same name in 1990 starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.
A talented screenwriter, Fisher has revised numerous scripts, including Sister Act (1992), Outbreak (1995) and The Wedding Singer (1998).
She gave various interviews over the years about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and addiction to prescription drugs and cocaine, which she admitted using on the set of The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
Fisher was briefly married to singer/songwriter Paul Simon in the 1980s. Her daughter Billie, also an actress, comes from her relationship with talent agent Bryan Lourd.
The eighth episode of the main Star Wars series — due for release in December next year — wrapped filming in July, according to Variety magazine, and will probably be her last big-screen appearance.