2016 has been an absolutely brutal year for celebrity deaths, and even in the final days of the calendar year, icons of the stage and screen continue to pass away. The year began with the death of David Bowie, and throughout the rest of the year, we lost performers like Prince, Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin, Muhammed Ali, Gene Wilder, and George Michael, whose passing was reported on Christmas Day. However, on December 23, TMZ broke the news that Carrie Fisher had suffered a massive heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Reports were swirling that Fisher was not breathing for nearly 15 minutes when medical personnel attended to her on the plane, and she was immediately transported to emergency care. No updates were given on her condition until later, when her mother, famed actress Debbie Reynolds, tweeted that she was in stable condition at the hospital. Many saw that as an encouraging sign and were hopeful that she would manage to survive such a major event. Unfortunately, earlier today, Carrie Fisher was confirmed to have passed away at the age of 60.
Fisher was the daughter of Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, one of the most famous Hollywood couples of the 1950s. Reynolds starred as Kathy Selden in the 1952 classic Singin' in the Rain, while Eddie was most famously known as a pop musician. Carrie Fisher was born in 1956, and two decades later, she became an instant sensation due to her role as Princess Leia Organa in 1977's Star Wars. Fisher's iconic role spanned four entries in the space saga, including The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and last year's The Force Awakens. In addition to George Lucas' classic franchise, Fisher appeared in films such as The Blues Brothers, Hannah and Her Sisters, and When Harry Met Sally..., while also having a recurring role on Family Guy. Fisher was also known as a talented script doctor, which is explored in this fascinating post over at Hollywood Elsewhere. On her Wikipedia page, Fisher is listed as the script doctor for The Wedding Singer, Sister Act, and Last Action Hero, three films that went on to reach different levels of success. Beyond her role in the movie industry, Fisher was an acclaimed author, publishing five novels and three non-fiction books.
In the aftermath of her passing, Fisher is set to appear in Episode VIII, which will debut on December 15, 2017. The film wrapped shooting in the summer, but it is unclear what plans Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow had for her character in Episode IX.
When I first heard the news on Friday, I feared the worst. Things certainly did not sound good, and passengers on the plane seemed to indicate that she was in very bad shape. But as the days went on, I became more optimistic, which turned out to be a sense of false hope. This is a crushing tragedy, the loss of a powerful voice and personality in the film industry. There was nobody out there quite like Carrie Fisher, and her unique presence was always deeply felt. Of course, she'll always be primarily known as Princess Leia, the strong, independent heroine at the center of the Star Wars universe. The energy and wit Fisher brought to the character was invaluable, and it's impossible to imagine Princess Leia in the hands of any other actress. Fisher was nothing short of pitch-perfect, and she turned Leia into an icon that will last for generations. Fisher was a charismatic, larger-than-life figure, someone who commanded your attention whenever you saw her. She was funny, she was fierce, she was all kinds of awesome, and she will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace, Carrie Fisher.
Image Credit: IMDB/Lucasfilm