Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How Carrie Fisher's brutal wit and very public battles with drinking, drugs, men and mental health turned the scion of Hollywood royalty into the princess everyone loved

  • Earlier this year Harvard College gave Fisher the Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Humanism


  • Star Wars actress, who has died at 60 after suffering a heart attack, was born into Hollywood royalty yet spent her whole life skewering the world of celebrity
  • Fisher was the daughter of famous parents, singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, known for her role in Singin' in the Rain - but her father left to marry Elizabeth Taylor
  • Fisher, who was just 60, smoked pot at the age of 13, used LSD by 21 and went through electroshock therapy to treat her mental health issues
  • She was briefly married to singer Paul Simon, while Bryan Lourd, the father of her daughter Billie, left her for a man and in her later years her therapy dog became her closest companion
  • 'If my life wasn't funny it would just be true and that's unacceptable,' she wrote
  • In her latest memoir 'The Princess Diarist', Fisher revealed that she and Harrison Ford had a secret relationship during the filming of Star Wars. Fisher wrote: 'It was so intense. It was Han and Leia during the week, Carrie and Harrison during the weekend'. 
  • She said that she has few regrets but she was ashamed of the effect that her drugs and mental health problems had on her daughter - but that the two were now close 

  • Carrie Fisher was as brutally frank as she was brutally funny - and it wasn't like she had a shortage of material.
    The Star Wars actress, who has died at 60 after suffering a heart attack, was born into Hollywood royalty yet spent her whole life skewering the world of celebrity.
    Her main target was her own life and her battles with substance abuse and bipolar disorder.
    Fisher, who was just 60, smoked pot at the age of 13, used LSD by 21 and went through electroshock therapy to treat her mental health issues.
    Carrie Fisher, famed for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, died on Tuesday, aged 60, after suffering a heart attack days earlier
    Carrie Fisher, famed for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, died on Tuesday, aged 60, after suffering a heart attack days earlier
    Fisher is the daughter of famous parents, singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, known for her role in Singin' in the Rain
    Fisher is the daughter of famous parents, singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, known for her role in Singin' in the Rain
    While Fisher's mother (center, holding Carrie as a child in 1957) is still alive, her father, Eddie (left) died in 2010
    While Fisher's mother (center, holding Carrie as a child in 1957) is still alive, her father, Eddie (left) died in 2010
    'I'm a product of Hollywood inbreeding,' Fisher once said of her famous parents. 'When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result.'
    'I'm a product of Hollywood inbreeding,' Fisher once said of her famous parents. 'When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result.'
    Fisher, pictured as a baby in 1956 alongside her parents, battled mental illness. She was diagnosed as bipolar at 24 and was treated with electroshock therapy and medication
    Fisher, pictured as a baby in 1956 alongside her parents, battled mental illness. She was diagnosed as bipolar at 24 and was treated with electroshock therapy and medication
    Beloved: Carrie Fisher's parents were Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher - but her father left not long after this picture to marry Elizabeth Taylor, a scandal which rocked Hollywood
    Beloved: Carrie Fisher's parents were Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher - but her father left not long after this picture to marry Elizabeth Taylor, a scandal which rocked Hollywood

    Her father left her mother when she was two and married Elizabeth Taylor in a scandal that shocked Hollywood.
    Fisher was briefly married to singer Paul Simon; the father of her daughter Billie Lourde left her for a man; and in her later years her therapy dog became her closest companion.
    Fisher was best known for playing Princess Leia in Star Wars but her wit and wisdom were what won her legions of fans.
    Her honesty helped to dispel the stigma about the issues she suffered from - even if she would never have seen herself as a role model.
    Fisher was born into Hollywood royalty in Beverly Hills; her mother was screen legend Debbie Reynolds - who at 84 has outlived her daughter - and her father was singer Eddie Fisher.
    In 1959 Eddie Fisher left Reynolds and married Taylor, making Taylor Fisher's step mother.
    Fisher would remain very close to her mother for the rest of her life and the two lived next door to each other in Los Angeles.
    It would not be until the mid-1990s that Fisher and Taylor made up and became good friends.
    Fisher confronted Taylor at a party and in response Taylor pushed her into the pool - it worked and cleared the air.
    Fisher debuted on Broadway in her teens and got her big film break alongside Warren Beatty in Shampoo in 1975 before briefly enrolling London's Central School of Speech and Drama.

    She dropped out at the age of 19 after landing the role of Princess Leia in George Lucas' 1977 space epic Star Wars.
    It became the role that defined her career and eclipsed her other parts including her appearances in 'When Harry Met Sally' and 'The Blues Brothers'.
    But by then she was already battling the drug use that would bedevil her whole life.
    Fisher used drugs to 'dial down' her mental health issues and make her able to function.
    Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar at 24 and, speaking to Psychology Today in 2001, she said: 'Drugs made me feel normal. They contained me'.
    In an interview on CNN with Larry King, Fisher said that she became addicted to drugs because she copied her father, who had similar issues of his own.
    Fisher was using cocaine during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi , something she only admitted to later in her life.
    In interviews Fisher made clear she had a love hate relationship with the character.
    She once said: 'People want me to say that I'm sick of playing Leia and that it ruined my life. If my life was that easy to ruin, it deserved to be ruined'.
    Fisher nearly did not even get the part and Star Wars director George Lucas was not convinced by her playing the role in such a forthright way.
    In 1978 when she was auditioning for the part Lucas told her to go to a fat farm and lose ten pounds, which she did.
    Recounting one of her conversations with Lucas, Fisher once said: 'George comes up to me the first day of filming and he takes one look at the dress and says: 'You can't wear a bra under that dress'.
    'So, I say: 'Okay, I'll bite. Why?' And he says: 'Because...there's no underwear in space'.
    In her memoir Wishful Drinking, Fisher joked that 'George Lucas ruined my life', though he also made her very wealthy with an estimated personal fortune of $5 million.
    Fisher said that she hated wearing the bikini during the slave scenes and said that it was degrading.
    But that meant that one of her favourite scenes in Star Wars was when she killed Jabba the Hutt, who in the script forced her to wear it.
    She said: 'I had a lot of fun killing Jabba the Hutt. They asked me on the day if I wanted to have a stunt double kill Jabba. No! That's the best time I ever had as an actor. And the only reason to go into acting is if you can kill a giant monster'.
    Fisher married Paul Simon in August 1983 after dating on and off for six years. The marriage was brief - they divorced a year later in 1984
    Fisher married Paul Simon in August 1983 after dating on and off for six years. The marriage was brief - they divorced a year later in 1984
    Fisher and Simon first started dating in 1977. They are pictured above in 1982 after a memorial service for comedian John Belushi
    Fisher and Simon first started dating in 1977. They are pictured above in 1982 after a memorial service for comedian John Belushi
    While on a break from Simon, Fisher was briefly engaged to Canadian actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd, who proposed on the set of The Blues Brothers in 1980. They broke up with Fisher got back together with Simon
    While on a break from Simon, Fisher was briefly engaged to Canadian actor and comedian Dan Aykroyd, who proposed on the set of The Blues Brothers in 1980. They broke up with Fisher got back together with Simon
    At the end of the 1980s, Fisher starred in the hit 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, where she plays the role of Marie
    At the end of the 1980s, Fisher starred in the hit 1989 romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, where she plays the role of Marie
    In When Harry Met Sally, Fisher (pictured left) stars alongside Bruno Kurby (second left), Billy Crystal (second right) and Meg Ryan (right)
    In When Harry Met Sally, Fisher (pictured left) stars alongside Bruno Kurby (second left), Billy Crystal (second right) and Meg Ryan (right)
    In 1987, her thinly veiled autobiography Postcards From the Edge became a best-seller
    Her book was adapted into a 1990 movie starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep (pictured above with Fisher)
    In 1987, her thinly veiled autobiography Postcards From the Edge became a best-seller. It was adapted into a 1990 movie starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep
    Fisher gave birth to Billie in July 1992. HEr full name is Catherine Fisher Lourd, but she goes by the nickname Billie. Together they're pictured above in 2011
    Fisher's daughter Billie (pictured with her mother in the 1990s), now 24, is an actress in her own right, starring in the hit series Scream Queens
    Fisher gave birth to Billie in July 1992. Her full name is Catherine Fisher Lourd, but she goes by the nickname Billie. Together they're pictured above in 2011 (left) and in the 1990s (right)
    Fisher's daughter, Billie, regularly posted loving photos of herself and Fisher on her Instagram for Mother's Day and birthdays
    Billie and Fisher pose for a recent photograph
    Fisher's daughter, Billie, regularly posted loving photos of herself and Fisher on her Instagram for Mother's Day and birthdays
    Fisher later told new Star Wars actress Daisy Ridley: 'You should fight for your outfit. Don't be a slave like I was'.
    Speaking to ABC News last year Fisher said that she embraced being typecast as Leia. She said: 'I've gotten into character and I've never gotten out again'.
    Fisher's drug problems reached their low point in 2005 when a night of debauchery ended with gay Republican lobbyist R. Gregory Stevens dying of an overdose in her home.
    The day before the Academy Awards Fisher found his lifeless body lying next to her in her bed, she later revealed.
    Fishers' one-woman show 'Wishful Drinking' was turned into the memoir of the same name and made its way to Broadway in 2009.
    In the show she said: 'I'm a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, something like me is the result'.
    At another point, she cracked: 'I don't have a problem with drugs so much as I have a problem with sobriety'.
    Fisher's 1983 marriage to Paul Simon, which lasted just 11 months, was troubled.
    In the biography of Simon 'Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon' by Peter Ames Carlin, he writes that they 'fought a lot'.
    Carlin writes: '(Paul) didn't want to have to deal with Carrie when she came pinballing home with Christ only knew what powders and pills sizzling inside her feverish skull.
    'Then it would be her turn to crash back to earth, ashamed of her wild moods and indulgences, suddenly convinced she had neither the brains nor the maturity to keep up with her older genius boyfriend'.
    After Postcards From the Edge, 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 Ford had an affair on the Star Wars set
    After Postcards From the Edge, 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 Ford had an affair on the Star Wars set
    And while she has been successful in other aspects of her life, Star Wars seemed to follow Fisher (pictured in 1995) throughout her life - most recently visual effects were used to bring a young Princess Leia into the newest Star Wars film, Rogue One
    And while she has been successful in other aspects of her life, Star Wars seemed to follow Fisher (pictured in 1995) throughout her life - most recently visual effects were used to bring a young Princess Leia into the newest Star Wars film, Rogue One
    In the 1990s, Fisher started dating CAA super agent Bryan Lourd with whom she had her daughter Billie in 1994
    In the 1990s, Fisher started dating CAA super agent Bryan Lourd with whom she had her daughter Billie in 1994
    After being together for several years, their relationship ended when Lourd left Fisher to be with another man
    After being together for several years, their relationship ended when Lourd left Fisher to be with another man

    The two tried to heal their differences by visiting a spiritual healer in the Amazon where Fisher took a psychedelic tea drink to cleanse her spirits.
    Carlin wrote that it was to no avail because her 'depths were unimaginably deep'.
    For her part Fisher summed it up like this: 'It was a fantastic wedding, but a bad marriage'.
    Fisher married celebrity PR agent Bryan Lourd in 1991 but their three year marriage ended when he left her for a man.
    After the split Fisher tried to play happy families for her daughter's benefit, even going on holiday with Lourd's new lover.
    Fisher has said: 'I don't know if I believed I made him gay, but I'd failed and that's all that really counts'. 
    Among the other men who courted her was Dan Aykroyd; he once proposed to her after she choked on a Brussels sprouts and he saved her with the Heimlich maneuver.
    In addition to acting Fisher was a talented screenwriter and revised numerous scripts, including 'Sister Act', 'The Wedding Singer' and 'Outbreak'.
    This summer Fisher had attracted a new generation of fans when she became an agony aunt for young people.
    In her introductory letter she wrote: 'If my life wasn't funny it would just be true and that's unacceptable'.
    Fisher's therapy dog Gary, who was at her bedside in hospital in her final days, had of late become a star in his own right. 
    Fisher starred with her mother in a documentary set to air on HBO in 2017. "Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Together the pair are pictured in 1997
    Fisher starred with her mother in a documentary set to air on HBO in 2017. 'Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher' premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. Together the pair are pictured in 1997
    Besides her mother, Fisher is survived by her brother, Todd Fisher, and her daughter, Billie Lourd. Pictured above, Billie Lourd, Debbie Reynolds, and Carrie Fisher pose together at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2015
    Besides her mother, Fisher is survived by her brother, Todd Fisher, and her daughter, Billie Lourd. Pictured above, Billie Lourd, Debbie Reynolds, and Carrie Fisher pose together at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2015
    Fisher (pictured in 2015) was never coy about revealing details about her life
    Fisher (pictured on December 7) hoped that telling her own stories would help remove the stigma from mental illness
    Fisher (pictured left in 2015, and right on December 7) was never coy about revealing details about her life, and she hoped that telling her own stories would help remove the stigma from mental illness
    Fisher's pooch Gary often followed her on stage and to events - pictured above he licks her face during an appearance at Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2016
    Fisher's pooch Gary often followed her on stage and to events - pictured above he licks her face during an appearance at Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2016
    Fisher's ever-present bulldog, Gary Fisher (pictured with Fisher just days before her heart attack), had his own Twitter and Instagram account.
    Fisher's ever-present bulldog, Gary Fisher (pictured with Fisher just days before her heart attack), had his own Twitter and Instagram account.

    CARRIE FISHER'S WITTIEST QUIPS

    As well as acting, Fisher made a career as a writer of both novels - including the semi-autobiographical Postcards From the Edge - and memoirs, such as this year's The Princess Diarist. 
    In all of them she showcased her whip-smart wit and knack for turning a phrase. Here are some of the highlights. 
    On Star Wars 
    (After being asked how she got the part) 'I slept with some nerd. I hope it was George [Lucas]... I took too many drugs to remember.' - in Vanity Fair, 2006

    On fame
    'I googled myself without lubricant. I don't I recommend it.' - on The Late Show With David Letterman, 2009 
      
    On her struggles
    'There's no room for demons when you're self-possessed.' - Twitter, 2014 

    On her bipolar disorder
    'Having waited my entire life to get an award for something, anything … I now get awards all the time for being mentally ill. It’s better than being bad at being insane, right? How tragic would it be to be runner-up for Bipolar Woman of the Year?' - in Wishful Drinking, 2008 
    In a hilarious interview on Good Morning America Gary stole the show by poking his tongue out the whole time, causing interviewer Amy Robach to laugh uncontrollably.
    In her latest memoir 'The Princess Diarist', Fisher revealed that she and Harrison Ford had a secret relationship during the filming of Star Wars.
    Fisher wrote: 'It was so intense. It was Han and Leia during the week, Carrie and Harrison during the weekend'.
    In 1985 Fisher had a near fatal overdose and checked herself into a 30-day rehab program in Los Angeles.
    She turned the incident into fuel for her comic novel 'Postcards from the Edge'.
    Addressing her drug issues, Fisher once said: 'All in, I've had about four or five slips since I started going to 12-step support groups at the age of 28, making that four or five slip ups in 23 years, which is not great.
    'The most painful thing about returning to this dark planet is seeing the look of disappointment and hurt that these forays invariably put in the eyes of your loved ones'. 
    Fisher has said that she has few regrets but she was ashamed of the effect that her drugs and mental health problems had on her daughter.
    In one interview she said: 'How many eight-year-olds have to visit their mom in a mental hospital? I'm not one for regrets, but I do regret anything I did that made life hard for my daughter.
    'But after thinking I'm an idiot, she now thinks I'm funny, which is great. She's just really bright and pretty and hilarious and has a great voice. She's a DNA jackpot!' 
    Fisher is survived by her daughter, Billie Lourde, her brother, Todd Fisher, sisters Tricia and Joely Fisher as well as her mother.
    Fisher will appear once more as Princess Leia after her death as she had recently filmed scenes for next year's Star Wars film, Episode VIII.
    Earlier this year Harvard College gave Fisher the Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Humanism, whose previous recipients have included comedian Eddie Izzard, former Senator Barney Frank, author Salman Rushdie and British author and comedian Stephen Fry, who made a TV documentary with Fisher about mental illness.

    Harvard said the award was for Fisher's 'forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism have advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy'.
    In Wishful Drinking, Miss Fisher said she had only one request for her obituary.
    She wrote: 'However I go I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra'. 

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