Carrie Fisher, Actress Beloved for Playing Princess Leia, Dies at 60

Carrie Fisher speaks onstage during Wizard World Comic Con Chicago 2016 (Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Wizard World)

Carrie Fisher, the actress who became a pop culture icon for her performance as Princess Leia in Star Wars, has died at age 60.

Fisher had suffered a massive heart attack last week on a flight from London to Los Angeles. On Sunday, her family said she was in stable condition.

A representative of Fisher's daughter, Bille Lourd, confirmed that Fisher died on Tuesday morning.

Fisher shot to fame at the age of 19, when she took on her instantly iconic role in Star Wars.

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As Leia Organa, she seemed to be taking on the role of damsel in distress — appearing as a hologram begging for help. But she was no helpless heroine: Princess Leia was an indomitable, independent rebel leader.

When the Star Wars franchise returned last year in The Force Awakens, Fisher's role reflected the strength she'd always given her character: Princess Leia was now General Organa.

But it was her appearance in the original films that cemented Fisher's status as a pop culture icon. Her legendary role came with instantly-recognizable outfits: Those cinnamon-roll braids; that drapey white dress; and, of course, that famous gold bikini.

A few weeks ago, she spoke with Terry Gross about that uncomfortable-looking out she wore while Princess Leia was enslaved by Jabba the Hutt in Return of the Jedi.

"Nearly naked" was not her preferred aesthetic, she said. "It wasn't my choice ... it made me very nervous. I had to sit very straight because I couldn't have lines on my sides, like little creases. No creases were allowed, so I had to sit very, very rigid straight.

"What redeems it is I get to kill him, which was so enjoyable. ... I sawed his neck off with that chain that I killed him with. I really relished that because I hated wearing that outfit and sitting there rigid straight, and I couldn't wait to kill him."

In the popular imagination, Fisher was inextricably tied to that most famous role. But her life, of course, was much larger.

She was a writer of both memoirs and novels — her first book, the semi-autobiographical Postcards from the Edge, was a bit of both.

Carrie Fisher shared her approach to life in her 2008 HBO special Wishful Drinking.

"Let's say something happens, right, and from a certain slant maybe it's tragic, even a little bit shocking," she said. "And then time passes, and you go to the funny slant, and now that very same thing can no longer do you any harm."

As Andrew reports, Fisher lived by that wisdom.

"She was born in 1956 to two huge stars — the singer Eddie Fisher and award winning actress Debbie Reynolds," Andrew says. "From a certain slant being born to two famous people — who ended up famously divorcing — can be tragic. Time passes, and it has to be funny."

Fisher was "out and open about her issues with drugs and alcohol, and mental illness and treatment," Andrew notes. "She told NPR's Fresh Air that getting all of this out there and speaking about the baggage was a way for her to understand herself."

"It creates community when you talk about private things and you can find other people that have the same things," Fisher told Terry Gross. "Otherwise I felt very lonely with some of the issues that I had."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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