Carrie Fisher, the actress, author and screenwriter who brought a rare combination of nerve, grit and hopefulness to her most indelible role, as Princess Leia in the “Star Wars” movie franchise, died on Tuesday morning. She was 60.A family spokesman, Simon Halls, said Ms. Fisher died at 8:55 a.m. She had a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Friday and had been hospitalized in Los Angeles.
After her “Star Wars” success, Ms. Fisher, the daughter of the pop singer Eddie Fisher and the actress Debbie Reynolds, went on to use her perch among Hollywood royalty to offer wry commentary in her books on the paradoxes and absurdities of the entertainment industry.
“Star Wars,” released in 1977, turned her overnight into an international movie star. The film, written and directed by George Lucas, travelled around the world, breaking box-office records. It proved to be the first installment of a blockbuster series whose vivid, even preposterous characters — living “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” as the opening sequence announced — became pop culture legends and the progenitors of a merchandising bonanza.
Ms. Fisher established Princess Leia as a damsel who could very much deal with her own distress, whether facing down the villainy of the dreaded Darth Vader or the romantic interests of the roguish smuggler Han Solo.Wielding blaster pistols, piloting futuristic vehicles and, to her occasional chagrin, wearing strange hairdos and a revealing metal bikini, she reprised the role in three more films — “The Empire Strikes Back” in 1980, “Return of the Jedi” in 1983 and, 32 years later, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” by which time Leia had become a hard-bitten general.
Lucasfilm said on Tuesday that Ms. Fisher had completed her work in an as-yet-untitled eighth episode of the main “Star Wars” saga, which is scheduled to be released in December 2017.
Offscreen, Ms. Fisher was open about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder. She gave her dueling dispositions the nicknames Roy (“the wild ride of a mood,” she said) and Pam (“who stands on the shore and sobs”). She channeled her struggles with depression and substance abuse into fiercely comic works, including the semiautobiographical novel “Postcards From the Edge” and the one-woman show “Wishful Drinking,” which she turned into a memoir.
Fisher long battled drug addiction and mental illness. She said she smoked pot at age 13, used LSD by 21 and was first diagnosed as bipolar at age 24. She was treated with electroconvulsive therapy and medication.In 1987, her thinly veiled autobiography Postcards From the Edge became a best seller. It became a 1990 film starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep.
Ever ready to satirize herself, she has even played “Carrie Fisher” a few times, as in David Cronenberg’s dark Hollywood sendup Maps to the Stars and in an episode of Sex and the City. In the past 15 years, Fisher also had a somewhat prolific career as a television guest star, recently in the Amazon show Catastrophe as the mother of Rob Delaney’s lead, and perhaps most memorably as a has-been comedy legend on 30 Rock.
Her one-woman show, Wishful Drinking, which she’s performed on and off across the country since 2006, was turned into a book, made its way to Broadway in 2009 and was captured for HBO in 2010.
Besides her daughter, Fisher is survived by her brother Todd Fisher, and her mother.
Fisher wasn’t shy about revealing details about her unusual life, whether it was about drug addiction, mental illness or her failed relationships. She hoped to destigmatise mental health problems.
“People relate to aspects of my stories and that’s nice for me because then I’m not all alone with it,” she said. “Also, I do believe you’re only as sick as your secrets. If that’s true, I’m just really healthy.”