Beyond Star Wars: Remembering The Life Of Carrie Fisherby Leslie James Dec 22, 2022
One thing you can say about Carrie Fisher is that she wore hair buns well. Her role in Star Wars as Princess Leia made her a star, while her buns made her an (unwilling) icon. But Fisher was much more than a lovely fictional princess floating around in a gauzy white gown. Here are some little-known facts about Fisher’s life, some good, some bad, and sadly, some ugly.
Born Into Hollywood Royalty
On October 21, 1956, Carrie Fisher was born to one of Hollywood’s most celebrated and beloved couples: Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. Debbie was a popular actress and Hollywood darling; Eddie was a musician, and an in-demand teen heartthrob.
When only two years old, Fisher experienced her parent’s divorce and the ensuing media coverage that proved relentless, leaving her to suffer in the spotlight. As a child she witnessed paparazzi climbing through the hedges of their backyard in an attempt to snap pictures of her mother, and she came to understand the full weight of celebrity.
Although she vowed to never go into show business, Fisher got her first taste of the allure of show biz when just 16 years old. At that time, her mother brought her to New York to join the chorus of a Broadway musical, and Fisher caught the acting bug.
On A Roll
At age 17, Fisher enrolled in London’s Central School of Speech and Drama where she studied the craft of acting. In 1975, she landed her debut role in the film Shampoo, alongside Warren Beatty. At just 19 years old, Fisher was cast in what would become her signature role: Princess Leia in the George Lucas film Star Wars. When the movie hit theaters in 1977, it became an instant beloved classic, but the price of fame would take its toll on Fisher’s life.
Fisher’s drug habit, which would continue for decades, began on the set of Star Wars. While shooting Star Wars (and engaging in an affair with costar Harrison Ford), Fisher met singer and songwriter Paul Simon of Simon & Garfunkel fame. The couple dated on and off from 1977 until 1983 but continued to put off marriage.
During the filming of The Empire Strikes Back, the second movie in the Star Wars series, Fisher’s drug use escalated and she began using cocaine and relying on Percocet, which she claimed to take more than 30 times a day. In 1980, she suffered a drug overdose on the set of the comedy, Under the Rainbow.
A Diagnosis Ignored
After being hospitalized for her drug dependency, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder; however, she disregarded the diagnosis, believing it to be nonsense, and ignored the medical advice provided by her physicians.
Out of rehab and back on drugs, Fisher married Paul Simon in 1983; by that time, they had been dating on and off for six years. But In 1984, a mere eleven months after they married, the couple divorced.
After yet another hospitalization for drug use, Fisher finally accepted her bipolar diagnosis and began seeking treatment. In 1987, she wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards From the Edge, which became a New York Times bestseller and, later, a movie starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.
Following her divorce from Simon, Fisher met Bryan Lourd, a talent agent and Creative Artists Agency executive. Although they never married, they had a child together, Billie Catherine Lourd. Bryan eventually left Fisher, and shortly thereafter she again entered a psychiatric hospital where her bipolar diagnosis was reinforced, along with a diagnosis of manic depression.
After her release from the hospital, Fisher focused on raising her daughter and resurrecting her Hollywood career. She became a screenwriter as well as a script doctor, which provided opportunities for editing and tightening movie scripts, including The Wedding Singer, Hook, and Sister Act. Beginning in the ’90s and continuing for more than 20 years, Fisher had many cameo roles in major Hollywood movies such as Scream 3 and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery.
Look To The Stars
In 2015, Carrie reprised her seminal role as Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but she was now known as General Leia Organa. Her daughter, Billie Lourd, also appeared in the movie.
Sadly, when Fisher was flying home from an international book tour on December 27, 2016, she stopped breathing en route to New York. Sixth months after her death, the coroner’s office released a report stating that the exact cause of Fisher’s death could not be determined. She was 60 years old.