LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — “Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher has passed away at the age of 60, her publicist announced Tuesday.
Fisher was admitted to the intensive care unit at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on Friday after suffering a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles International Airport.
A cause of death has not yet been released.
Fisher’s family released a written statement that read in part: “It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning. She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”
PHOTOS: Carrie Fisher Through The Years
Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, wrote on Facebook: “Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop. Love Carries Mother.”
CBS2’s Cristy Fajardo was on Hollywood Boulevard Tuesday where the latest Star Wars saga is playing. Storm Troopers are shedding tears,
Wookiees are left with heavy hearts and grief-stricken fans say they feel like a piece of their childhood has died.
Several celebrities expressed their condolences on Twitter after learning of Fisher’s death.
Fisher was best known as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” trilogy and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
She made her feature film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 hit “Shampoo” and was also an accomplished author who detailed her experiences with addiction and mental illness in several best-selling books. Besides her daughter, Fisher is survived by her brother, Todd Fisher, and her mother, actress Debbie Reynolds.
Fisher told plenty of secrets about others — about her parents’ breakup when she was 2, about being advised by Warren Beatty on wearing a bra in “Shampoo,” and about arguing with then-husband Paul Simon about whether it was better to be a man or a woman.
Asked by NPR recently why she wrote about her fling with Ford, who was 15 years older and married, she joked that she could hold back no longer because he had refused to die: “I kept calling and saying, `When are you going to die because I want to tell the story?”‘
But she was toughest on herself and unafraid to turn trauma into humor. She became the most knowable of celebrities, with a great and generous gift for bringing us into her unusual life.
PHOTOS: Carrie Fisher Through The Years
“One of the therapists came in to admit me and asked how long I had been a drug addict,” she wrote in Postcards,” her autobiographical novel that became a movie of the same name. “I said I didn’t think I was a drug addict because I didn’t take any one drug. `Then you’re a drugs addict,’ she said. She asked if I had deliberately tried to kill myself. I was insulted by the question. I guess when you find yourself having overdosed, it’s a good indicator that your life isn’t working.”
She is survived by her mother; her daughter, Billie Lourd, from a relationship with talent agent Bryan Lourd; her brother, the actor-filmmaker Todd Fisher; and her half-sisters, actresses Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher. Her father died in 2010.
Born and raised in Beverly Hills, Carrie Fisher was a bookish child who had difficult relationships with both parents. In a celebrity breakup that made headlines everywhere in 1958, Eddie Fisher left his family for Elizabeth Taylor.
Eddie Fisher was hardly present for his daughter in her early years, and Reynolds’ second husband, the shoe store magnate Harry Karl, was even worse. He squandered his own money and Reynolds’ on gambling and prostitutes and left the actress and her children broke and devastated.
Meanwhile, Carrie Fisher went into the family business early — too early, she would later say. Fisher was performing on stage by age 12 and appeared with Reynolds in the 1973 Broadway revival “Irene.” She was still a teenager when she made her feature film debut in “Shampoo,” which came out in 1975.
Even after “Star Wars,” Fisher would speak often of feeling overshadowed by her mother and about the need to break away, a conflict dramatized in “Postcards From the Edge.”
Mother and daughter were estranged for years but reconciled later in life and came to admire each other’s talent and determination. “Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher,” an HBO documentary, is scheduled for release in 2017.
Fisher’s film credits included a wide range of spoofs, musicals and romantic comedies over the years, from “Austin Powers” and “The Blues Brothers” to “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “When Harry Met Sally …” Meryl Streep was the star when “Postcards From the Edge,” with a screenplay by Fisher, was adapted into a film of the same name in 1990. Shirley MacLaine played Streep’s mother, the stand-in for Reynolds.
But for millions, Fisher was Princess Leia, with her now-iconic hair bagels and metal bikini, who uttered the immortal phrase “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope” in the original “Star Wars” in 1977.
Director George Lucas, who considered Jodie Foster, Amy Irving and dozens of others for the role, said he had been looking for an actress who could “hold her own” against her male co-stars.
Fisher would make a lot of wisecracks about the role that made her pop-culture royalty and led Reynolds to note ruefully she was now regarded as the mother of Princess Leia.
Fisher disliked her hairstyle, disparaged her hybrid British-American accent in the films and was appalled by some of the “Star Wars” merchandise, including a Princess Leia candy dispenser.
Given the chance, she would have preferred to play Han Solo.
“When I first read the script I thought that’s the part to be, always wry and sardonic,” she told a gathering in England in 2015. “He’s always that. I feel like a lot of the time Leia’s either worried or pissed or, thank God, sort of snarky. But I’m much more worried and pissed than Han Solo ever was, and those aren’t fun things to play.”
Her drug problems pre-dated “Star Wars.” She recalled smoking pot at age 13 (She would later learn that there is a kind of marijuana called “Princess Leia.”) and dropped acid at 21.
She used so much cocaine that even world-class partyer John Belushi, who died of a drug overdose at 33, warned her to stop.
In her 20s, she was diagnosed as bipolar and treated with electroshock therapy and medication, which she wrote about in the memoir “Shockaholic.”
“People relate to aspects of my stories, and that’s nice for me because then I’m not all alone with it,” she told the AP in 2009.
Ever ready to satirize herself, she 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 had a steady career as a television guest star, perhaps most memorably as a has-been comedy legend on “30 Rock.”
Her one-woman show, “Wishful Drinking,” which she had performed on and off across the country since 2006, made its way to Broadway in 2009 and was captured for HBO in 2010.
“I don’t have a problem with drugs so much as I have a problem with sobriety,” she wisecracked in the show. At another point, she said: “I’m a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result.”
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