Fisher was a piece of our childhood — no matter how old we were when we saw “Star Wars” for the first time. Because, like “The Wizard of Oz,” “Star Wars” captured that part of us that somehow remains forever young.
However, Fisher, who died Tuesday, age 60, of heart failure, was more than just a space Princess with sticky buns glued to the side of her head. She was a witty, self-aware, often self-lacerating writer whose acerbic take on everything from addiction to adulation (of the celebrity kind) always had a kind of relentless honesty.
She was literally born in a spotlight — the daughter of Hollywood darling Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher. The wattage went up a zillion-fold when daddy left Reynolds — the American Sweetheart of her day — for Elizabeth Taylor. Fisher once recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone that she remembered “the press diving through trees to get pictures of me, my brother and my mother…I’ve been public domain all my life. I was trained in celebrity, so I did the only thing I knew. I went into the family business.”
It may have been all in the family; still, Fisher always did things her own way, including her nubile movie debut as a 17-year-old temptress sidling up to Warren Beatty in “Shampoo.”
Though her biggest legacy will always be as Princess Leia, Fisher had memorable parts in other pictures: the original “The Blues Brothers,” Woody Allen’s “Hannah and Her Sisters” and, perhaps most touchingly, as Meg Ryan’s best-friend/sidekick in “When Harry Met Sally…” As she snuggles with Bruno Kirby — they are two blind dates meant for Harry (Billy Crystal) and Sally (Ryan) who, instead, fall for each other — he promises her that she’ll never have to be “out there” again— i.e., out there in the wilds of the dating world.
In real life, Fisher did just fine “out there.” In the outer space — or whatever you call it — of the “Star Wars” universe and in her own inner space. She accomplished the latter by turning her weaknesses into strengths. Her many best-sellers include “Wishful Drinking,” “Postcards From the Edge” (made into a terrific movie starring Meryl Streep) and, most recently, “The Princess Diarist,” in which she ‘fessed up to an affair with “Star Wars” co-star Harrison Ford.
And she could be so bitingly funny. Describing her bipolar disorder, she told Vanity Fair, “I had too much personality for one person and not quite enough for two.”
Her last on-screen appearance, fittingly, is in the current megahit, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” She’s there at the very, very end, as her Princess Leia self in 1977, about to make the hologram message that will launch “Star Wars” and all that followed.
An interviewer for Playboy once asked her who she’d rather spend her life with, Yoda or E.T.? Like a true George Lucas loyalist, she chose Yoda. “E.T. seems like a much more pleasant person…but Yoda is a teacher and I like learning things.”
Fisher learned a lot in her too-short time here. Luckily, she passed much of that wisdom on. She was smart. She was funny. And she was very much her own kind of princess.
Rest in Peace Carrie Fisher you will be missed.
Eleanor Ringel Cater has taught criticism at Oglethorpe and Emory Universities and talks about movies on WMLB-AM 1690.