Fisher died Tuesday morning after suffering what was described as a massive heart attack during a flight from London to Los Angeles on Friday. Fisher had been in London filming Season 3 of Catastrophe and promoting The Princess Diarist, her most recent book.
Fisher landed the role of Princess Leia in the first Star Wars movie when she was just 19. The 1977 movie became an international megahit and she became an icon, with her hair buns and the line, "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope," becoming some of the most recognizable moments from the series and in popular culture. She reprised the role in 1980's The Empire Strikes Back, 1983's Return of the Jedi and 2015's The Force Awakens. Leia defines Fisher's career, which Fisher viewed as a mixed but mostly positive blessing, saying in 2015, "People want me to say that I'm sick of playing Leia and that it ruined my life. If my life was that easy to ruin, it deserved to be ruined."
Fisher famously struggled with bipolar disorder and drug addiction, as dramatized in her semi-autobiographical 1987 novel Postcards from the Edge. She has said she turned to drugs as a way to self-medicate her disorder and the stress that came with fame. She later became an advocate for mental health and addiction treatment.
Fisher was also an accomplished writer, penning novels including Postcards from the Edge — for which she also wrote the screenplay for the 1990 film adaptation — and The Best Awful, and memoirs including Wishful Drinking (which she adapted into a one-woman stage show) and The Princess Diarist. She also worked as an uncredited screenwriter on Sister Act, The Last Action Hero and The Wedding Singer.
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Her TV credits include hosting Saturday Night Live in 1978, the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special the same year, and memorable guest spots on dozens of shows, including 30 Rock (for which she was nominated for an Emmy), Family Guy and the aforementioned Catastrophe.
Fisher was born Oct. 21, 1956, in Beverly Hills. She was the daughter of entertainers Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, two of the biggest stars of the 1950s. She had a difficult childhood — her parents divorced when she was 2, when her father left her mother for Elizabeth Taylor. Reynolds married Harry Karl, owner of a chain of shoe stores, who ended up secretly spending her fortune. Fisher never graduated from high school or college due to her showbiz career getting in the way.
Fisher dated singer Paul Simon from 1977 to 1983, when they married; they divorced the next year. She had a relationship with CAA partner Bryan Lourd, with whom she has a daughter, Scream Queens actress Billie Lourd, who was born in 1992. Fisher and Lourd split in 1995. Fisher recently admitted to having an affair with her Star Wars co-star Harrison Ford during the production of the first movie.
She is survived by her daughter, her mother, her brother Todd, and her half-sisters Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher.