RIP Carrie Fisher

People reports she died this morning.

Obviously she will be remembered for Star Wars — she played one of its most iconic characters, who was a general, a senator and a princess. But as much as I liked her in that role, she came most alive for me when I learned that she was a writer, and a good one, and not only a good one, but an extraordinarily witty one, one who was called in to save movie scripts and who could write novels and memoirs with characters and turns of phrase that inspired me at least to want to be that witty too.

Beyond that I admired her openness talking about her struggles with addiction and mental illness. I think she did good work in helping people who shared her struggles in their own life know that they didn’t have to stop you, you just had to know they were part of the landscape. I think she saved lives being open about her own.

So she not only played a role model but was one in her own life, for all sorts of people, including me. I’m glad she was here with us. I’m sad she is gone now. I just know she would have a great parting shot about it.

Update: I wrote a longer piece on Carrie Fisher as a writer, for the Los Angeles Times. Here it is.

Update, 12/28/16: Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher’s mother, has died, one day after her daughter.

69 Comments on “RIP Carrie Fisher”

  1. Celebrity deaths don’t typically bother me, but this one does. I’m bummed, and I don’t know if it’s just because I dig on Star Wars or for some other reason.

  2. I am incredibly saddened by this loss. Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. You will be missed.

  3. I was five when the original SW: A New Hope came out. I had a Princess Leia doll, and my brother and I had a lot of the action figures and other toys. She will be missed. :-(

  4. Shaun Jex – I dabble in an assortment of literary and artistic endeavors. My writing has appeared in Celebrations Magazine, Old School Gamer Magazine, Texas Heritage Magazine, Renaissance Magazine, Cowboy Jamboree Magazine, and other disparate locations.
    Shaun Jex

    Smart, funny, brave, and an icon to boot. Carrie Fisher will be missed.

  5. I don’t think she gets enough credit for her writing talent. I hope more people experience the joy of reading her work.

  6. Agreeing with Michael Engard here. They both survived so much, and their losses will be felt for years to come.

  7. annabutlerfiction – I'm a writer, making that big and scary jump from writing for fun, to writing for publication. I write old-school science fiction and steampunk romance, both with LGBT characters
    annabutlerfiction

    2016 has been a sort of cultural Ragnarok. The sheer number of people who have touched our lives — through their art, music, writing, song, acting — and who’ve been ripped away this year is astonishing. The Grim Reaper’s been on crack this year.

  8. It’s hard to find new words these days after losing so many in so short a time. Farewell to the Lady of the cinnamon bun coif; you will be missed.

  9. I was nine when Star Wars came out. Princess Leia was the first character I saw who spoke up and told the boys when they were being dumb. I will forever be grateful to her for this. As I became and adult, I learned to value that in Ms, Fischer as a person even as recently as the lead up to Force Awakens, telling critics to suck it when they gave her crap for having the nerve to age gracefully. She was open about her struggles and seemed generous with her heart but never took crap and that sounds like a role model to me.

  10. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    changterhune

    I literally got dizzy and nearly fainted when I heard it from a friend whose wife works at CNN. Worst part is in addition to my own sadness I had to tell my kid, she starts crying and we both are bawling about it. 2016 is really not going out without taking more good folks down.

  11. Sonuvabitch. 2016, are you going for some type of high score on Dig Dug or some shit? We have lost far too many cultural icons this year; I don’t care if it’s just a statistical blip.

  12. I had the great fortune to see her one-woman show when she was touring, about 6 or 7 years ago. I can’t remember the name of it just now, but it was essentially “Carrie talks about her life.” And it was amazing. What an incredible woman, and what a strange, wonderful life she had. She will be missed.

  13. My 12-year-old granddaughter called to tell me about Carrie and we both cried. Carrie Fisher was such a part of our lives.

  14. I am saddened beyond belief. It wasn’t that she was Princess Leia, although that’s some of it. But in a larger than life way, she as a member of the Star Wars Universe, and as a survivor of drugs, bad marriages, a tumultuous life …she represented hope. The good guys win; the bad guys die. A world of diversity, or tolerance, the only intolerance being of — intolerance. Her books courageous presented her life as a survivor; her films served as a role model for little girls of all ages: it’s okay to be beautiful and sexy; talented; a leader; a general and a princess; a mother and a person. In remembering her, remember that she was a personfication of hope for our future and not just an entertainer or author or the daughter of Debbie Reynolds. Adios, Ms. Fisher. Thanks for everything.

  15. So help me, Paul, Ringo and William Shatner better have 24/7 security and medical teams standing by for at least the next 6 months – Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, too. I just can’t handle any more of this…

  16. realthog – Hugo- and World Fantasy Award-winning author of 70+ books, including novels, story collections, science history and various big fat encyclopedias. Runs the Noirish site at https://noirencyclopedia.wordpress.com/. My website's at http://johngrantpaulbarnett.com/.
    realthog

    That’s sad — I’d assumed she was recovering. I read this morning that Richard Adams (Watership Down) has died as well, but at least he reached 96 rather than just 60.

  17. Of course I loved her as Princess Leia, and I saw and appreciated her influence in steering that character from “2-dimensional Princess Figure who provides motivation, romance, smart remarks,” to “3-dimensional leader whose strong moral center steers a galaxywide movement.”

    But it wasn’t until a few years later when I read “Postcards” and some of her other works that I realized just how much of her self she infused into that character.

    She was born and raised to be a Hollywood Princess, daughter of film royalty, and, mirroring the experiences of female children of royalty in the larger world, a symbol, an object, a receptacle for expectations and demands. Her struggle for agency, to explore, discover, and become a self defined by her own experiences and spirit, was lived in the public gaze.

    What else could she do but find a way to laugh about it?

    All of us who’ve struggled with chronic brain disorders have vertices in common with Carrie. Her voice and her incandescent presence in our culture leave another terrible hole.

    I really wish this could all be blamed on “2016.” I hope it is some bizarre, year-related concatenation of horror and abuse of humanity by a malign Fate that will take the tick of the clock between midnight on December 31st and zero hour on January 1st as the signal to stand down.

    May it be so.

    Please.

  18. Reading this and all the corresponding comments is really helpful since I’m having trouble pouring into words how awful this feels and how strange it seems to feel so upset for the passing of someone I don’t know in real life, but who affected me so much through one character’s portrayal.

  19. 2016, at least for me, marked an incredible generation and creativity change.

    Carrie Fisher was the least in a long row who are now gone for good. Their ideas now carved in stone, the creativity is gone.

    I’m sure there will be others stepping in their very big footsteps – but in some cases, it is hard.

    David Bowie was such a case. George Michael another. And now Carrie Fisher. Movie-Icon and a human who finally found her peace. The pictures I saw showed a woman who is in balance with herself.

    Not the worst moment to go. And I wouldn’t wish upon her that she survived. 15 min. of CPR are frying a brain, even if there are optimal surroundings which weren’t in the flight.

    While I’m sad that she is gone, I’m happy that she didn’t have to suffer. That’s all any of us can ask for if it’s our time to close the casket.

  20. I like the snippet that’s getting passed around of her interview where, after her discussion with Lucas re: no underwear in space, she said her obituary, regardless of accuracy, should read: Carrie Fisher Drowned In Moonlight, Strangled By Her Own Bra.

    A stunning talent in acting and writing. Goddammit.

  21. I was fortunate enough to see her Wishful Drinking monologue. An astonishing survey of the perils on a Hollywood childhood. RIP, Carrie.

  22. I was afraid this was coming. Yet another icon who seemed immortal, like you couldn’t imagine a universe without them in it. Yet here we are, in that universe, and it’s a strange and scary place.

    We were also lucky enough to see her do Wishful Drinking in Berkeley a few years back. She was warm, witty, self-deprecating, and keenly aware of her own ridiculousness. It was a marvelous performance.

    What we didn’t know was that at that time, she was also taking care of her dying father. And, of course, she later wrote movingly about the experience (in Shockoholic).

    RIP, Carrie. You were a great human being. An intelligent, hilarious, deeply troubled woman who found a way to wring laughs out of the saddest situations. We’ll miss you.

  23. It’s a fact that famous people die every year, but 2016 really does seem different. This year we’re losing particularly beloved icons, and many of them really are too young to go.

  24. I am an autistic woman with a comorbid mental illness. Carrie’s honesty and ability to show the world that life does indeed continue despite diagnoses, despite sexism and ableism and hateful bullshit, meant the world to me. It always will.

  25. Carrie is gone, and yet . . .

    There, shrouded in mist, are the forms of Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Princess Leia. Standing together, smiling at us. Anakin isn’t there, but he never really deserved it after killing 30 Jedi younglings. But Leia? She will never die.

    The force is in you, be one with the force. On to grander adventures? Come back and tell us your tales someday.

    We have loved you, and still love you.

  26. I highly recommend the 2016 documentary ‘Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds’ – it’s a hilarious, sad and honest portrait of their quirky and loving relationship. I felt like I knew them both better after watching, and I can’t imagine how Debbie Reynolds is feeling after losing her best friend and care-giver.

  27. God damn this whole fucking year.

    The grim reaper could have taken evil Jar Jar Trump but no, he takes general Organa?

  28. I wrote about this elsewhere but…This one is an especially hard one; she was one of my first celebrity autographs. My group of friends used to watch in the San Francisco Chronicle for two theaters, the Coronet and Northpoint. When they were closed for a special event, it generally meant that LucasFilm was having a screening. We had hoped to go the the benefit for the UC Berkeley’s Pacific Film Archive for the Empire Strikes Back but couldn’t afford it so we decided to stand in front of the Coronet in the hope of seeing someone. A 20th Century Fox rep came out and asked us if we wanted to see a film. We said sure! We entered surrounded by reporters from the New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine and others. They gave us a nifty press packet, and a tee-shirt. We watched the movie and loved it. As we prepared to leave, Miss Fisher was there greeting people as they departed. My rule is that you have to get them to speak to you when you get the autograph. I remembered that she had just married Paul Simon so I asked her what was like being newly married. I got a lovely five minute conversation though all I remember was how low her voice was, how petite she was, and how lovely her skin was. She graciously signed the press packet which sits in a drawer which I haven’t opened in years.

  29. The most powerful movie experience I had when I was sixteen — watched the original Star Wars over and over with all my allowance money. Sometimes the ushers would just let us sit in and wait to watch it again. I loved the scene where she grabbed the blaster from the guys and saved herself. Have read about half her books. Knowing she is no longer in the world (and she was not that much older than I am) is sad.

  30. This one hurts. I grew up with Star Wars. My kids are growing up with Star Wars. In the 80’s I was too young to pay any attention to the gossip and news surrounding her, but now that I am older and have had my own battles I identify with some of what Carrie Fisher went through. Right now I’m stuck in a super selfish regret that I never actually read her books so that I could have messaged/Tweeted/posted my thanks to her for putting it all out there. We need people to keep doing that. So THANK YOU, Ms. Fisher.

  31. I have bipolar and I really appreciated her talking openly & honestly about it.

  32. She was the real deal when it comes to a person. It was all there and she learned to sit right in the middle of that raucous room that was her personality and find a place to smile. Or grin even.

  33. Not just a fine actress, but truly smart, compassionate, and funny. I also would love hear her deliver some pithy smartass comment about this. 60 is way too young.

  34. For Marilyn and Manuel:

    Carrie recommended this, as her ideal obituary. “She died as she lived; drowning in the moonlight, strangled by her own bra.”

    Now she is a luminous memory, reminding me to be strong, brave and kind, and that mental illness is best beaten back with wit, courage and honesty.

  35. I was really hoping she’d pull through. She was such an inspiration (of sass, mental health advocacy, and women in the public eye). I’m sorry that her family is losing her so young, comparatively speaking, and I’m sorry that we’re all losing her as a warrior against sexist assholes.

  36. This just plain sucks.

  37. This one really hurts me along with Leonard Nimoy and Alan Rickman. Obviously The Force needed her too much to let her stay with us. She looked amazing and wonderful in Star Wars VII. You are very missed Carrie

  38. I was lucky enough to finally meet her in 2009 at a convention in Detroit. We were all getting shunted along like cattle because of the crowd for her, so I never got to tell her that she made herself the template, in the eyes of a seven-year-old boy, for the kind of woman I’ve always loved–a fierce non-taker of shit. But I did get to tell her that I always dreamed of sitting across from her at a table, me all starry-eyed. She chuckled at that one, and for a woman that funny, I consider it an achievement. And I got a photo-op with her, where she really threw her arms around my waist. *heavy, dreamy sigh*

    2016 needs to get fucked slowly with a rusty chainsaw.

  39. Regina Wysocki – I'm Clinical Data Specialist in the Texas Medical Center. An avid Social Media consumer, I'm interested in the latest and greatest technology innovations and how they interact with healthcare.
    Regina Wysocki

    I adored Princess Leia when I first saw Star Wars as a five year old. She was sassy, took no crap and got to run around with a blaster just like the boys. I had the privilege of seeing Carrie Fisher on a panel at DragonCon a few years ago, and was blown away. She was irreverent, funny, bawdy and inspiring. The 5 year old in me with hair buns and a blaster is very sad today…

  40. Yes. All this. I loved Star Wars and the life she brought to Princess Leia, and I loved her writing. And there’s just so much to say and so much more that won’t be said now because she’s gone. It sucks.

  41. At nineteen, I loved the spunky princess saving the boys saving her. At 58 now, I wish I’d had the chance to hang out with the sarcastic, scatological, fantastic writer she became. Thanks for this and particularly the L.A. Times piece, John. 2016, you’re fired!

  42. I too usually don’t get too affected by celebrity deaths, but Carrie Fisher feels oddly different. Perhaps, because Star Wars is a touchstone of my youth…or perhaps because, at some level I still imagine her as the young actress of the first three Star Wars films. Or perhaps because I saw Rogue One on the day she died.

  43. I had to tell my six year-old daughter, who *loves* Leia. That was hard, but she didn’t get too upset, and asked good questions.

  44. I saw her one-woman show on DVD, and it was wonderful. Carrie Fisher was a woman of many talents, and she spoke about the issues of mental illness and addiction with honesty and with her trademark wry humor. I’m saddened she won’t be able to be a part of the continuing Star Wars saga, but I will miss having her in the world for countless other reasons as well. RIP, Carrie, and I send my heartfelt condolences to your loved ones.

  45. “To me she will always be royalty.” Yeah.

    As for 2016, if ever a year could be compared to a turd in the punch bowl, this was it.

  46. It’s a fact that famous people die every year, but 2016 really does seem different. This year we’re losing particularly beloved icons, and many of them really are too young to go.

    Some of this is just our filter-bubble. There will be young people saying: “Who?” about a lot of the ones we lost this year. And while the first few months of 2016 were a bit of a blip, the tail end is about normal.

    And of course, the era of mass media is relatively young – and its inhabitants are ageing out. There are more celebrities, and we get to hear of them more immediately.

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