In 2016, we lost a lot of people, both famous and non-famous. It almost seemed like a rehash of 2009, another year in which a bunch of celebrities died. They dropped out one by one this past year: Prince, David Bowie, Natalie Cole, Alan Rickman and Patty Duke, to name a few. Nobody thought that it could get any worse than 2009, but oh, were they wrong. 2016 came along with a vengeance, and she was not going to stop until she had claimed the best of the best in show business.
Just two days after Christmas, Carrie Fisher passed away in the hospital, with her mother Debbie Reynolds unexpectedly following a day later. Following a book tour to promote her second memoir, “The Princess Diarist,” on a Dec. 23 flight from the U.K. to Los Angeles, Fisher suffered a massive heart attack and was hospitalized on a ventilator, dying four days later. Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, went home and passed away the following day due to complications from a stroke, but it is said she died of a literal broken heart, with her last words being, “I want to be with Carrie.” Fisher’s remains were placed in a replica Prozac pill per her request, and she and Reynolds were buried side by side at Hollywood’s Forrest Lawn Cemetery. Mourners included Meg Ryan, Meryl Streep and Mark Hamill.
It is a truly sad thing that mother and daughter are both no more, albeit both dying within hours of each other, but it can happen. Reynolds and Fisher seemed like a perfect mother-daughter combination in Hollywood, but this was not the case at first. Throughout her life, Debbie Reynolds put up with a lot of disasters, including husband Eddie Fisher leaving her for best friend Elizabeth Taylor. This, my friends, was the (wait for it…) “Brangelina” of the old Hollywood years. Reynolds holds prominence in films like “Singin’ In The Rain” and “The ‘Unsinkable’ Molly Brown,” and younger viewers may recognize her as Aggie Cromwell in the 1998 Disney Channel film “Halloweentown” and the voice of Charlotte in the 1973 animated film “Charlotte’s Web.”
Her daughter, Carrie Fisher, is pretty much defined by one role, and one role only: Princess Leia Organa in the “Star Wars” franchise. Before production started on “Episode IV,” due to the limited budget, the American cast and crew members flew economy class, rather than first class, to England. When Reynolds heard about this, she called director George Lucas to complain. Lucas handed the phone to Fisher who simply said, “Mother, I want to fly coach. Will you [expletive] off?!” and hung up. There were a number of oddities Fisher encountered during production of “Star Wars,” all of which she recounted in her memoir-turned-HBO comedy special “Wishful Drinking.” For example, when asked why she was not allowed to wear a bra during the filming of “Episode IV,” Lucas responded with a tart, “Because…there are no bras or underwear in space.” Fisher stated in her memoir, “I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra” as a result. Fisher had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and battled addictions to cocaine and prescription medication. She claimed her drug use was a form of self-medication, and she battled these addictions throughout the ‘80s and into the ‘90s. Eventually she got sober and became an advocate for awareness surrounding mental illness and addiction. Prior to her death, Fisher had finished filming for the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” and Disney has stated that there are no plans to “digitally recreate” her as they did in the “Rogue One” prequel. When asked about being defined as Princess Leia, she stated, “Princess Leia got famous. I just happened to look like her. I still am Princess Leia. It doesn’t go away when they say ‘cut.’ She can do anything; she can do what she can do, and she can do what she can’t.” In the end, we did not just lose a space princess: we lost an icon, a mental health advocate and a friend.
Sources: ABC News; Carrie Fisher, “Wishful Drinking”; Vanity Fair