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On December 27, 2016, the world mourned the loss of the galaxy’s most beloved princess. Carrie Fisher, who was perhaps best known for her role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise, passed away at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. In a tragic turn of events, her 84-year-old mother, Oscar-nominated actress-singer Debbie Reynolds, died a day later as a result of a stroke.
Fisher made her acting debut at the age of fifteen in the Broadway musical, Irene. Her first movie, Shampoo, followed shortly after, but her big break came in 1977: the role of Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, who set a new standard for fictional princesses. Admired for her grit and humor, she was a powerful role model for young girls, showing them princesses did not have to be the damsels in distress – they could do the saving too.
The actress donned her infamous buns for Star Wars: Episodes IV – A New Hope, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, and this year’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Fans will see their beloved Princess Leia one last time on the silver screen in the untitled eighth episode set for release in December 2017.
Fisher’s legacy extends far beyond her intergalactic bravery. In addition to starring in several comedies like When Harry Met Sally, she also wrote numerous books and screenplays and was an active advocate for mental health. Diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 24, she commended those dealing with mental illness and strove to encourage open discussion and communication. The talented star also helped demystify mental illness with her humor and proved that it was not an impediment to success.
“I’ve never been ashamed of my mental illness; it never occurred to me,” Fisher said after winning an Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism from Harvard College’s Humanist Hub. “Mothers can tell their kids when they are upset with the diagnosis that Princess Leia is bipolar, too.”
Gary, Fisher’s beloved French bulldog who accompanied the actress to almost all public events, also helped the cause by raising awareness of the therapeutic role of animals in helping people with mental illnesses.
Fans around the world have been honoring her memory in the weeks following her death by dressing up and sharing pictures of themselves as Leia or holding memorial parades. Both Fisher and Reynolds will be missed for their contributions on and off screen. May the force be with them.
Resources: nola.com,imdb.com, cnn.com, cnbc.com,space,com