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Four days ago, 60-year-old actress Carrie Fisher, best known as Princess Leia from the Star Wars film series, was hospitalized after a “cardiac event” on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She died today from a heart attack while still hospitalized.
TMZ offers some details:
… she suffered the heart attack 15 minutes before landing. People on the plane tell TMZ she appeared lifeless.
A passenger who’s an EMT performed CPR on Carrie and once the flight landed, paramedics rushed her to UCLA Medical Center where she remained in intensive care until her death.
The family had said she was in “stable condition” but we’re told she was not responsive after her medical emergency.
Carrie had been on a publicity tour for her new book, The Princess Diarist. The book recently made headlines because she wrote about having an affair with co-star Harrison Ford while shooting the original Star Wars movies.
She recently spoke about her affair and love of Coca-Cola on the daytime talk show of lesbian comedian Ellen DeGeneres:
In addition to appearing in Star Wars, Fisher also appeared in other well-known films like The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally and Postcards from the Edge, a film based on her semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. Fisher authored eight books, three screenplays and three plays including her one-woman show entitled Wishful Drinking which HBO later turned into a 2010 documentary featuring her.
She had a brush with the gay world on more than a few occasions. From age 13, she performed alongside gay backup dancers in her mother’s stage show. In 1992, she had a daughter with bisexual talent agent Bryan Lourd. Lourd later left her after coming out; she’d later wonder whether she had somehow turned him off of women.
In 2005, a gay Republican political operative named R. Gregory Stevens died in her bed of a drug overdose. She appeared in gay director Stewart Hendler’s campy 2009 film Sorority Row. In 2010, she unapologetically outed actor John Travolta, later stating, “John has always been that we know and we don’t care. Look, I’m sorry that he’s uncomfortable with it, and that’s all I can say.” Fisher maintained a devoted gay following throughout her later years.
Ever since her 1995 interview with Diane Sawyer, Fisher began speaking openly about her bipolar disorder and addictions to cocaine and prescription drugs. She became so well known for her mental health awareness raising that in 2016, Harvard College awarded Fisher with an Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism because “her forthright activism and outspokenness about addiction, mental illness, and agnosticism have advanced public discourse on these issues with creativity and empathy.”
Despite her many accomplishments, Fisher continued to reference and poke fun at her iconic role by playing herself or Princess Leia in Star Wars-related episodes of shows like Robot Chicken and The Big Bang Theory. She even performed voice roles in two Star Wars video games and briefly appeared as Princess Leia in the newest Star Wars film, Rogue One.
Princess Leia’s popularity came in part from the rarity of strong female roles in science-fiction and her defiance to Star Wars‘ most abusive patriarchs, Darth Vader and Jabba the Hut. Her character led the rebellion that helped destroy the genocidal fascist empire (basically space Nazis) and she also murdered the grotesque space gangster that tried to sexually enslave her. Though she had reportedly finished filming her scenes for the second of the three upcoming Star Wars episodes, it’s unclear whether producers will try to generate a digital version of her for the third installment, a film in which she was to play a large role.
It’s no wonder Fisher inspired generations of women and sci-fi fans with her unapologetic strength and storytelling. May the force be with you, Carrie Fisher.