Iconic 'Star Wars' Actress Carrie Fisher Dies at 60: 'She Was Loved by the World and She Will Be Missed Profoundly'

Carrie Fisher, the actress best known as Star Wars‘ Princess Leia Organa, has died after suffering a heart attack. She was 60.
Family spokesman Simon Halls released a statement to PEOPLE on behalf of Fisher’s daughter, Billie Lourd:

“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” reads the statement.

“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Fisher was flying from London to Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 23, when she went into cardiac arrest. Paramedics removed her from the flight and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where she was treated for a heart attack. She later died in the hospital.

The daughter of renowned entertainers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, Fisher was brought up in the sometimes tumultuous world of film, theater and television.

Carrie Fisher, then 2-and-a-half, played with mom Debbie Reynolds during an interview.

Dad Eddie Fisher held Carrie Fisher (right) and her younger brother Todd in 1958.

A teenaged Carrie Fisher posed with mom Debbie Reynolds in New York City in 1973.

Carrie Fisher chatted on the phone in a scene from her first film, 1975's Shampoo.

Escaping Hollywood in 1973, the star enrolled in the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, where she spent over a year studying acting.

Just two years later, though, the bright lights of Hollywood drew her back, and Fisher made her film debut in Warren Beatty's Shampoo.

Her role in Star Wars would follow in 1977 – the experience she recently detailed in memoir, The Princess Diarist. She was only 19 when the first installment of the beloved sci-fi franchise was filmed.

In addition to the second and third Star Wars films – and last year’s The Force Awakens – Fisher starred in 1980’s The Blues Brothers, The Man with One Red Shoe, Woody Allen’s Hannah and Her Sisters in 1986 and, later, When Harry Met Sally.

Fisher wed musician Paul Simon in 1983. It was an explosive marriage, according to Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon author Peter Ames Carlin, and was cut short by swinging stages of depression, the actress’ drug use and an array of personal insecurities. The relationship continued, though, on-and-off for several years after the pair divorced in 1984.

Fisher was candid about her substance abuse issues over the decades, starting at only age 13 when she began smoking marijuana. She said she later dabbled in drugs like cocaine and LSD. Fisher explored her own issues with addiction in her 1987 bestselling, semi-autobiographical novel, Postcards from the Edge, which was later turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep.

“I never could take alcohol. I always said I was allergic to alcohol, and that’s actually a definition to alcoholism — an allergy of the body and an obsession of the mind,” Fisher told the Herald-Tribune in 2013. “So I didn’t do other kinds of drugs until I was about 20. Then, by the time I was 21 it was LSD. I didn’t love cocaine, but I wanted to feel any way other than the way I did, so I’d do anything.”

In 1985, Fisher was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and she subsequently became an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness.

Throughout much of the ’90s, Fisher focused on her writing career, publishing Surrender the Pink and Delusions of Grandma. In addition, Fisher helped craft the scripts for numerous Hollywood films, going uncredited, for films like The Wedding Singer, Hook and Sister Act.

Billie Lourd, Fisher’s only child, was born in July 1992. The Scream Queens star’s father, talent agent Bryan Lourd, dated Fisher for three years and is now married to Bruce Bozzi.

In 2005, Fisher was recognized with the Women of Vision Award by the Women in Film & Video – DC. Three years later, Fisher’s Wishful Drinking autobiography was turned into a one-woman stage show and eventually an HBO documentary.

Of returning to the role that launched her career – Leia – for The Force Awakens, Fisher told PEOPLE in 2015, “I knew that something enormous was likely going to impact my life from this film and that there was absolutely no way of understanding what that was or was likely to be.”

The film – which brought Fisher back into the spotlight – earned her a nomination for the 2016 Saturn Award for best supporting actress.

Just last month, Fisher also revealed her surprising on-set affair with Star Wars costar Harrison Ford in The Princess Diarist, telling PEOPLE of the three-month fling, “It was so intense.” The memoir, which drew from Fisher’s old diaries and notebooks, brought up mixed feelings for the actress.

“I had forgotten that I’d written them, and I’ve never written diaries sort of like that,” she said. “I write when I’m upset … it was about two or three months of upset."

Fisher added, “It was sad because I was so insecure, and it’s very raw and obviously I didn’t expect anyone — including myself, I suppose later on — to read it.”

She is survived by her mom Reynolds, daughter Lourd and beloved French bulldog, Gary.


Carrie Fisher Dead At 60 Following Hospitalization

SUNSET BOULEVARD VIA GETTY IMAGES
Actress Carrie Fisher, best known for playing Princess Leia Organa in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, has died at age 60.

Fisher was taken to UCLA Medical Center after reportedly suffering a heart attack on Friday. She leaves behind a daughter, 24-year-old actress Billie Lourd, who released this statement through the family’s spokesman, Simon Halls:

“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning,” reads the statement.

“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Fisher was born in 1956 in Beverly Hills, California, to singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds. She attended Beverly Hills High School until she left to act alongside her mother in a Broadway revival of “Irene.” Later, she studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and was accepted into Sarah Lawrence College to study the arts, but did not graduate.

Fisher played Leia in the original “Star Wars” film, “A New Hope,” at age 19. She was 20 when the film was released in 1977. She continued to play a lead role in the iconic sci-fi series alongside co-stars Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford, starring in “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980 and “Return of the Jedi” in 1983. She most recently returned to the franchise in 2015, where she reprised her role as Leia Organa — now a general — in “The Force Awakens.”

While finding success with “Star Wars,” Fisher continued her illustrious career on the silver screen in films such as “The Blues Brothers” (1980), “Hannah and Her Sisters” (1986) and “When Harry Met Sally ...” (1989), among others.

The actress dated musician Paul Simon starting in 1977. The two had a yearlong marriage that ended in 1984. In between, Fisher was engaged to actor Dan Aykroyd, with whom she starred in “The Blues Brothers.” Fisher later coupled up with CAA talent agent Bryan Lourd, with whom she had her daughter, Billie, in 1992.

Fisher was also a prolific writer, first publishing her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards from the Edge in 1987, about an actress who tries to regain a hold of her life after a near drug overdose. The book was adapted into a movie in 1990 starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

Later, she published a memoir titled Wishful Drinking, based on her one-woman stage show of the same name. In it, Fisher touched on topics from growing up as Reynolds’ daughter, to bipolar disorder, drug addiction and motherhood. She released her latest memoir, The Princess Diarist, in 2016. In the book, she revealed that she had an “intense” affair with “Star Wars” co-star Ford.

Fisher also built a reputation in Hollywood as being a skilled scriptwriter. According to Uproxx, the actress had a hand in polishing scripts for “Hook,” “The Wedding Singer,” and “Sister Act,” among other films.

In recent years, Fisher had become a humorous presence on Twitter, handily commenting during presidential debates and shutting down critics.

A legend of the screen, stage and page, this icon will be deeply missed.


Carrie Fisher was a champion for mental health, too

(CNN)Many "Star Wars" fans know her as Princess Leia, but others remember actress Carrie Fisher as a passionate mental health advocate.

Fisher died Tuesday morning at age 60 after suffering a massive heart attack days earlier aboard an airplane traveling to Los Angeles.
Throughout her life, Fisher was outspoken about her struggles with bipolar disorder, addiction and alcoholism.
After her death, fans on Twitter remembered her advocacy.

Fisher spoke about her mental health with biting wit and honesty.
"I didn't like illegal drugs. I liked legal drugs. So I liked medicine, because I like the philosophy of it. You're going to feel better when you take two or eight of these, and I always wanted to feel better," Fisher said of her addiction to prescription drugs during a 1990 interview with CNN's Larry King.

"One of the side effects of Percodan is euphoria, and I thought that was a side effect that I could easily live with," she said of the narcotic painkiller. "Doesn't matter that the rest of them that follow that are palpitations, heart attack and death. I couldn't get over euphoria. Now, I just drive with the radio up really loud or do a relaxing talk show when I really want to feel great and like myself."
Here is a look back at times when Fisher shed light on mental health and addiction -- and a need for awareness.

'I am mentally ill. ... I am not ashamed of that'
Fisher has said she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 24.
She disclosed her long battle with bipolar disorder and addiction in a December 2000 interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer on "PrimeTime."
Fisher said she used to take 30 Percodan daily to try to manage her manic state. In the years that followed her prescription drug abuse, doctors helped her improve her health and maintain a recommended medication regimen.

"I have a chemical imbalance that, in its most extreme state, will lead me to a mental hospital," Fisher said in the ABC interview. "I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that, I'm still surviving it, but bring it on. Better me than you."
In 2001, the National Alliance on Mental Illness honored Fisher with its Rona and Ken Purdy Award for her contribution in helping end mental health discrimination and stigma.

'A tremendous amount of balls'
Fisher opened up about her life and struggles in the 2006 one-woman biographical play "Wishful Drinking," which was turned into a memoir in 2009 and then a documentary in 2010. In another book, "Postcards from the Edge," which was turned into a film, Fisher wrote about drug addiction.

In "Wishful Drinking," Fisher wrote, "One of the things that baffles me (and there are quite a few) is how there can be so much lingering stigma with regards to mental illness, specifically bipolar disorder. In my opinion, living with manic depression takes a tremendous amount of balls. Not unlike a tour of Afghanistan (though the bombs and bullets, in this case, come from the inside). At times, being bipolar can be an all-consuming challenge, requiring a lot of stamina and even more courage, so if you're living with this illness and functioning at all, it's something to be proud of, not ashamed of. They should issue medals along with the steady stream of medication."

'Princess Leia is bipolar, too'
When Harvard College's Humanist Hub honored Fisher with an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism in April, she shed light on her addictions and mental illness in her acceptance speech.
"I've never been ashamed of my mental illness; it never occurred to me," Fisher said, according to the Harvard Gazette. "Many people thank me for talking about it, and mothers can tell their kids when they are upset with the diagnosis that Princess Leia is bipolar, too."

'They really did heal me'
Fisher spoke often about the importance of treatment for mental health disorders. An effective treatment plan for bipolar disorder usually includes a combination of medication and psychotherapy, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, Connecticut, celebrated Fisher as an alumna for her "honest examination of her own mental illnesses, laconic wit and deadpan humor" during a gala in 2011.
Fisher credits the psychiatric hospital with helping improve her health after she received treatment for alcohol addiction and bipolar disorder.
"They really did heal me," Fisher said during the gala. "It was one of the best places I was ever institutionalized."

'Mommy is gone'
Fisher created Instagram and Twitter accounts for her French bulldog, Gary, who accompanied Fisher to various public appearances, from book signings to interviews.
After her death, a tweet on Gary's account said, "Saddest tweets to tweet. Mommy is gone. I love you."

Gary's popularity in the public eye might have raised awareness for the therapeutic role that animals can play in helping people with mental health disorders. Indeed, people with certain psychiatric disorders, such as bipolar disorder, may benefit from interaction with animals, according to the International Bipolar Foundation.
"He's very soothing to have around," Fisher told NPR's Terry Gross in a November interview.

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