Carrie Fisher Wasn’t Just a ‘Star Wars’ Icon — She Was an Author and Advocate, Too by the Forward

Carrie Fisher Wasn’t Just a ‘Star Wars’ Icon — She Was an Author and Advocate, Too

In 1987, a Los Angeles Times photographer asked Carrie Fisher if it would hurt her image to pose on a bar stool.

The actress and writer wasn’t concerned.

“There is not one area of sensationalism that I have not wandered into and trespassed wildly,” she told reporter Nikki Finke.

Fisher, who passed away this morning after suffering cardiac arrest December 23, had a cheerful, caustic wit, most frequently directed at herself.

Nothing was out of bounds: not her struggle with drug addiction, which she addressed in her first, semi-autobiographical novel “Postcards From the Edge,” not her experiences with bipolar disorder,not her 11-month marriage to Paul Simon, not the tabloid headlines that marked her childhood as her mother, Debbie Reynolds, divorced her father, Eddie Fisher, who was having an affair with — and later married — Elizabeth Taylor.

(“I’ve always said that if I wasn’t Debbie Reynolds’ daughter, I’d make fun of whoever was,” she told Finke.)

Fisher, best known for her iconic turn as Princess Leia in George Lucas’s “Star Wars” franchise — which she reprised most recently in the 2015 film “Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens” — made her screen debut at age 17 in Hal Ashby’s “Shampoo.” In her first scene in the film, which starred Warren Beatty and Lee Grant, she guided a bemused Beatty into a spotless kitchen.

“Want some lox?” she asked, pulling a platter of fish from the refrigerator.

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It was the first of many memorable lines, from “Star Wars”(“Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”) to “The Blues Brothers”(“You contemptible pig, I remained celibate for you”) to “When Harry Met Sally” (“Tell me I’ll never have to be out there again.”)

Fisher’s ability to deliver zingers was matched, and perhaps surpassed, by her ability to write them.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have given the guy who pumped my stomach my phone number, but who cares? My life is over anyway,” was her first sentence in “Postcards From the Edge.”

Her second novel, “Surrender the Pink,” opened with a similar bang: “Dinah Kaufman lost her virginity a total of three times.”

In her later years, Fisher published memoirs — in 2008 “Wishful Drinking,” based on Fisher’s one-woman Broadway show; in 2011, “Shockaholic,”, and in 2016 “The Princess Diarist”]( — and acted in select projects, including “The Force Awakens” and the British television show “Catastrophe.”

She also became passionate about serving as a mental health advocate. In 2015, she brought her service dog, Gary Fisher, who helped her manage her bipolar disorder, on her publicity tour for “The Force Awakens.” Gary won hearts and minds, and helped Fisher continue a decades-long fight to destigmatize mental illness.

Fisher acknowledged the often dramatic content of her life, but insisted that she’d found contentment in it.

“Hilariously – after all the drug addiction and celebration marriage and mental illness and divorce and shock treatment and heartbreak and motherhood and childhood and neighborhood and hood in general – I’ve turned out to be (at close to 70) a kind of happy person (go figure!),” she wrote in The Guardian this past June, introducing an advice column of which she would only produce two installments.

“Ask me your questions and I’ll tell you no lies,” she concluded. “Just maybe not the whole, horrid truth. Fun, huh?”

Carrie Fisher Wasn’t Just a ‘Star Wars’ Icon — She Was an Author and Advocate, Too


Talya Zax

Talya Zax

Talya Zax is the Forward’s deputy culture editor. Contact her at or on Twitter, @TalyaZax.

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