How did Carrie Fisher die? Drug addiction, mental illness plagued actress since young age
Published 2:28 pm Tuesday, December 27, 2016
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Carrie Fisher, the daughter of Hollywood royalty who played Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” and turned her experiences with addiction and mental illness into bestselling books, a hit film and popular stage performances, died Tuesday after suffering a medical emergency aboard a flight on Friday. She was 60.
Fisher long battled drug addiction and mental illness. She said she smoked pot at age 13, used LSD by 21 and was first diagnosed as bipolar at age 24. She was treated with electroconvulsive therapy and medication.
Her daughter, Billie Lourd, released a statement through her spokesman announcing Fisher’s death.
“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” read the statement from publicist Simon Halls. “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly.”
Fisher, the daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher, had been hospitalized since Friday, when paramedics responded to a patient in distress at Los Angeles International Airport. Fisher’s family said she was in intensive care Friday evening.
She made her feature film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 hit “Shampoo.” She also appeared in “Austin Powers,” ”The Blues Brothers,” ”Charlie’s Angels,” ”Hannah and Her Sisters,” ”Scream 3″ and “When Harry Met Sally …”
But Fisher is best remembered as the tough, feisty and powerful Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” in 1977, uttering the immortal phrase “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope,” her hair styled in futuristic braided buns. She reprised the role in Episode VII of the series, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” in 2015, and her digitally rendered image appears in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.”
“No words #Devastated,” actor Mark Hamill posted on Twitter Tuesday.
Actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the “Star Wars” films, wrote: “There are no words for this loss. Carrie was the brightest light in every room she entered. I will miss her dearly.”
In 1987, her thinly veiled autobiography “Postcards From the Edge” became a best seller. It was adapted into a 1990 film starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep.
More books followed: “Delusions of Grandma,” ”Surrender the Pink,” ”The Best Awful,” ”Shockaholic” and this year’s autobiography, “The Princess Diarist,” in which she revealed that she and co-star Harrison Ford had an affair on the set of “Star Wars.”
Walt Disney Company chief Bob Iger said in a statement Tuesday that Fisher “was one-of-a-kind, a true character who shared her talent and her truth with us all with her trademark wit and irreverence.”
Ever ready to satirize herself, she has even played Carrie Fisher a few times, as in David Cronenberg’s dark Hollywood sendup “Maps to the Stars” and in an episode of “Sex and the City.” In the past 15 years, Fisher also appeared as a television guest star, recently in the Amazon show “Catastrophe” as the mother of Rob Delaney’s lead, and perhaps most memorably as a has-been comedy legend on “30 Rock.”
She also stars with her mother in a documentary set to air on HBO next year. Directed by Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, “Bright Lights” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.
Lately, she endeared herself to the social-media generation with her unusual Twitter style and constant accompaniment by her dog, Gary Fisher, a French bulldog with his own Twitter and Instagram account. (“Saddest tweets to tweet. Mommy is gone. I love you @carrieffisher,” the dog’s Twitter feed read Tuesday.)
Her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking,” which performed across the country since 2006, was turned into a book, made its way to Broadway in 2009 and was captured for HBO in 2010.
Little was off-limits in the show. She discussed the scandal that engulfed her superstar parents (Fisher ran off with Elizabeth Taylor); her brief marriage to singer Paul Simon; the time the father of her daughter left her for a man; and the day she woke up next to the dead body of a platonic friend who had overdosed in her bed.
“I’m a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result,” she said in the show. At another point, she cracked: “I don’t have a problem with drugs so much as I have a problem with sobriety.”
“I will miss our banterings,” William Shatner wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “A wonderful talent & light has been extinguished.”
Besides her mother and daughter, Fisher is survived by her brother, Todd Fisher.
In a 2009 interview with The Associated Press, Fisher wasn’t coy about revealing details about her unusual life, whether it was about drug addiction, mental illness or her failed relationships. She hoped to destigmatize mental health problems.
“People relate to aspects of my stories and that’s nice for me because then I’m not all alone with it,” she said. “Also, I do believe you’re only as sick as your secrets. If that’s true, I’m just really healthy.”
AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr in Los Angeles and AP Drama Writer Mark Kennedy in New York contributed to this report.