“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into The Force. Mourn them not, miss them not. Attachment leads to jealousy, the shadow of greed that is.” – Yoda
I wrote this tribute the night of Carrie’s heart attack –
“I’ve been in love with #CarrieFisher since I liked girls. I guess that was 9 or so? And like most first loves, I guess I’ll always love her as I remembered her, as Princess Leia. Which is why my home screen is an unapologetic, admittedly creepy Slave Leia at the beach shot. I love this shot particularly because the expression of joy it captured. I think real joy was elusive for her. And I like to think she was really having a good time when this photo was taken. She enjoyed success, but it came at a hard price. Carrie Fisher survived drug addiction, alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder. She’s a fighter. She’s a hero of mine I admire. I wish her well. May the Force be with you Carrie. #HopeforCarrie”
Four days later, she was one with the force. And, in the spirt of Master Yoda, I celebrate and share what she meant to me rather than mourn her passing.
Carrie was many things she was an actress, activist, writer, mom, producer, humorist, Hutt-Slayer a bonafided Geek that lived her life on her own terms.
Carrie reportedly from an early age “hid in books” her family lovingly called her “bookworm”. She spent her earliest years reading classic literature, and writing poetry. She dropped out of Beverly Hills High at 15 to pursue a career in show business. She studied at London’s Central School for Speech & Drama for 18 months made her film debut in Shampoo, enrolled at Sarah Lawrence but failed to complete because she was cast in a little indie named “Star Wars”.
She had an affair with (married) co-star Harrison Ford she recalled “so intense … It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend.” She shined in the anthology series Laurence Olivier Presents in a television version of the William Inge play Come Back, Little Sheba. That November, she appeared as Princess Leia in the 1978 TV production Star Wars Holiday Special (you’re welcome) and sang in the last number that cast and crew concurred, high on enough Cocaine to pull the ears off a Gundark.
While in Chicago filming The Blues Brothers as Jake’s Crazy Ex, her life was saved by Dan Aykroyd when Carrie was choking on a Brussels sprout and he performed the Heimlich maneuver on her. He proposed and she accepted but, she then went back to her long time lover Paul Simon.
She graced the cover of 1980’s Rolling Stone to promote my favorite Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back
and nailed her role in Agnes of God on Broadway. The only Broadway show I insisted my mom take me to growing up other than The Wiz.
Then the glorious summer of 83′ Return of the Jedi and the infamous “Slave Leia” metal bikini I waxed upon nostalgically in my opening. Someone made a terrific observation about Carrie’s Leia being so bad ass she strangled a powerful despot in the very chains he hoped to enslave her in.
This could also be a metaphor for her long time battles with bi-polar, depression and alcohol & drug addiction. Carrie didn’t hide these afflictions. She grabbed them and the impact on her life and career. She used them as object lessons, couched within humorous insights, to help others struggling like her. In later years, she earned praise for speaking publicly about her experiences with mental health and drug addiction.
Fisher, a very talented writer, also did uncredited script work for movies such as Lethal Weapon 3 (where she wrote some of Rene Russo’s dialogue), Outbreak and The Wedding Singer.
Besides acting and writing original works, Fisher was one of the top script doctors in Hollywood, working on the screenplays of other writers. She did uncredited polishes on movies in a 15-year stretch from 1991 to 2005. She was hired by George Lucas to polish scripts for his 1992 TV series The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles and the dialogue for the Star Wars prequel scripts.
In 2005, Women in Film & Video recognized Fisher with the Women of Vision Award.
Fisher’s audiobook recording of Wishful Drinking, earned her a nomination for a 2009 Grammy Award in the Best Spoken Word Album category. But it was the AFI Life Time Achievement Award for George Lucas , a gold standard of impromptu roasts that managed to be unflinchingly cutting, clever yet kind. Like Carrie herself distilled in a 5 minute speech.
Fisher’s memoir, The Princess Diarist, was released in November 2016. The book is based on diaries she kept while filming the original Star Wars trilogy in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
In 2016, Harvard College gave Fisher it’s Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, noting that “her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism have advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy.” (Citation Wikipedia)
I will break with Yoda in this respect. I have her post-mortem performance in Star Wars Episode IIIV I covet.
In hindsight, I only realzed now, after she’s gone, how as I grew as a person, my appreciation for Carrie Fisher grew to be much more than a first crush for me. She was a hero of mine. She shared much of what Leia exemplified to me in her, but in the real world. And managed not to be full of herself like many celebrities. Her grace, intelligence, candor and wit came throughout her writing, acting and her philanthropy. She was funny as hell and officially a badass in every sense of the word. A woman who had her flaws but made history, not apologies. And, cultivated no fucks in combating hollywoods expectations of women or societies stigma of mental illness & addiction. She wasn’t only strong in The Force. SHE was a force in her own right.
In her book, Wishful Drinking, Fisher wrote about her eventual obituary: “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” A dig at Lucas for insisting she not wear a bra because according to George there are “no bras in space”. Who am I to go against the wishes of My General?
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