Carrie Fisher, Best Known For Her Role as Resistance Leader General Leia Organa, Dies At 60

I’m wearing a Star Wars t-shirt I’ve owned for almost 20 years and writing an obituary for Carrie Fisher, and maybe after I’m done I’ll sob out these tears that are threatening to choke me. But after that, I’ll get back up and keep fighting and keep fighting and keep fighting because that’s what Carrie Fisher taught me to do. I met Princess Leia when I was seven and needed to know a woman could be a space hero, too. I read Postcards From The Edge when I was in college and trying to give myself permission to take up space in the world. I was introduced to General Leia Organa in 2016, the year the United States elected a white supremacist misogynist to the highest office in the land. “General Leia Organa leads a brave RESISTANCE,” The Force Awakens‘ opening crawl read. General Leia.

Carrie Fisher suffered a massive heart attack on a transatlantic flight on December 23. She was given CPR on the plane and rushed the hospital when the flight landed. This morning her daughter, Billie Lourd, released a statement saying her mother had passed away. “She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly,” Lourd said. “Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”

Star Wars is responsible for her rise to stardom, and she’ll be remembered forever as Princess Leia, but during the last decade Carrie Fisher made sure that we wouldn’t be able to think about that gold bikini without acknowledging the fullness of the woman who wore it. Fisher grew up and into a hilarious, unapologetic feminist and mental health activist. She starred in blockbuster movies and critically acclaimed TV shows. She wrote and doctored scripts for dozens of beloved films. She wrote novels.

This year, she even started her own newspaper column, Advice From The Dark Side, hoping to destigmatize mental illness. It was a textbook Carrie Fisher move: In tandem with her myriad accomplishments, she refused to stay silent about her own struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder, and about the relentless pressure of the double standard women face in Hollywood. At 59-years-old, the studio insisted she lose 35 pounds before filming The Force Awakens and she didn’t think twice about sharing that information with the world.

Women grow up surrounded by so much princess imagery. Damsels in distress waiting to be rescued by a prince or a father or an 8-bit plumber. Princess Leia was a whole other thing. She took her life into her hands and set out to save herself and her people. She was her own Chosen One. And oh, she was unmanageable! “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?” she asked when Luke arrived to rescue her. “You stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf herder,” she snapped at her space cowboy. When Han told her he loved her, Leia simply said, “I know.” In The Force Awakens, all the men around her had failed or bolted or betrayed her. She was finally recognized as The General.

Carrie Fisher loved to laugh, and never hesitated to gently mock herself. She cherished her dog, Gary Fisher, so much. She made mistakes and she learned from them and she wrote about them and she talked about them and she just absolutely refused to stay silent. She overcame and she overcame. She succeeded against all odds. It was kind of her thing. Hope was always in scarce supply in Star Wars, but it lived in General Leia Organa and it lived in the actress who portrayed her, both powerful women who refused to apologize, both eternal leaders of The Resistance.


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Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her partner, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Heather has written 534 articles for us.

35 Comments

  1. 0

    I’ve never seen a single Star Wars movie. I know virtually nothing about the series. I didn’t know who Carrie Fisher was 10 years ago.

    Approximately 7 years ago, I saw Carrie Fisher’s solo show “Wishful Drinking” twice on Broadway. The second time, I was in the front orchestra, and I part of the audience participation. She called me “Rebecca,” and then blamed the error on the ECT.

    I am presenting a theatrical piece I wrote on my mental illness in a few weeks, and I’ve been dreading it because I’m very nervous about “coming out” about my mental illness. Today, I remember Carrie Fisher’s words. I remember how she was a BAMF mental health advocate. She spoke openly about her mental illness. She loved her dog. She didn’t give a shit about what people thought of her. To me, she was not Princess Leia – she was Carrie Fisher, and she was my hero.

    RIP, Carrie Fisher. Thank you for all you’ve done. You’ve made me a stronger, braver woman.

    “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” – Carrie Fisher


    Me as Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking – Halloween 2010

      • 0

        I don’t know what it is about Rebecca-Rebekah/Rachel, but I’ve been called Rachel too much to just brush it off. Is it some mass-cultural unconsciousness due to Judeo-Christian myths and histories that cause the two names to be stored in the Western brain in a linked way? Or is it something simpler like “multi-syllable female names”? I mean, I’ll answer to either, because I know you’re referring to me. It’s just funny.

  2. 0

    Gonna miss you princess. Gonna miss that feisty attitude that got men off their feet and into their ships to die for a cause. She didn’t need sex to lead men. She had her mind and her spirit. And boy it worked. Hell it allowed her to outsmart her dad a few times as well.

    Carrie was Leia, not because she enjoyed her role but because was the role. She didn’t need to act at all. Don’t believe me, look at her other roles including The Blues Brothers. She was a born leader and feisty gal.

  3. 0

    Rest in peace, Carrie Fisher. We will always remember how you rose from a context of intense sexism to mean so much to so many of us, and we will always aspire to the do the same!

  4. 0

    I just woke up to this news. She’s been a constant my entire life and now I feel so deflated and deeply sad. This was beautifully written Heather. I’m so glad Carrie lived to see Star Wars rise again and bring with it the appreciation she deserved so greatly.

  5. 0

    “When Han told her he loved her, Leia simply said, ‘I know.'”

    You’ve actually got that backwards, but it would have been awesome if it happened that way.

    Today sucks. I’ve been on such a Star Wars high since a few weeks before Rogue One came out and seeing Carrie Fisher pull through was my last great hope for this terrible year. And as much as we all keep talking about how terrible 2016 was, I feel like 2017 will be worse. But women like Carrie Fisher taught us how to fight back and we will.

  6. 0

    Goddamn this year. Goddamn this whole mess. I will miss you her, I will miss the strongest and most badass Princess ever. You fought like hell to be you and that was the most inspiring rebellion of all.

    “Drowned in Moonlight, strangled by her own bra.”

  7. 0

    Carrie Fisher lived unapologetically. That’s something to aspire to. I respect the hell out of that woman. It’s funny, I just saw Rogue One last night. That last scene, where young!Leia is there via CGI (I know this is a spoiler, but it’s such a little one…), was so appropriate and so touching. That’s how she’ll live on in my mind.

  8. 0

    What a badass obituary. I’ve wanted to be Leia (rebel space warrior princess, Huttslayer, antifascist role model, half of my very first otp, oh my god so many feelings) since I was a tiny tiny child, and I’ve loved Carrie Fisher’s honesty and attitude since I was old enough to know they weren’t the same person.

  9. 0

    Thank you Heather. This is a lovely piece.

    Carrie Fisher is my absolute hero. She lived openly with her mental illness in a world that reduces the mentally ill to “that person is fucking crazy”. She spoke candidly about her battle with addiction. She repeatedly called Hollywood out for sexism and ageism. She was a brilliant writer. Her twitter is a masterpiece, because why the fuck not. She took Gary with her everywhere because she was not afraid to show she needed support.

    Some of her last tweets were poking fun at the cgi version of Princess Leia in Rogue One.

    She was unapologetic until the end.

    Carrie Fisher was not Princess Leia, but it is impossible to talk about Carrie Fisher without mentioning Princess Leia.

    General Leia Organa was my first hero. She sassed Darth Vader. She was tortured by the man she later found out was her father and watched her entire planet die in front of her. She saved Luke and Han as often as they saved her. She fought to bring down the Empire and worked tirelessly to build the New Republic. In The Force Awakens, after the world she built crumbled and the galaxy was at war, after the unfathomable loss of her son to the dark side, Han ran and Luke hid. Leia Organa stayed, she tied her hair up and she kept fighting. Leia is the real hero of Star Wars. And Leia would not exist without Carrie Fisher.

    Most of the obituary images will be of a young Carrie Fisher in Star Wars. But I was so happy to see Autostraddle’s was of an older Carrie Fisher. That is how I will remember her too.

    Thank you Carrie.

  10. 0

    Beautifully written Heather. I also saw Star Wars when I was 7 (the year it came out) and read Postcards from the Edge in my 20s. I know that we can’t really know a celebrity, but her life and her art were important to me growing up and as an adult.

  11. 0

    I’ve never seen Star Wars despite saying I need to for like….10 years now? But Carrie Fisher meant a lot to me because her description of bipolar disorder is still the best one I’ve heard, and it was the description that really made it stick that I do in fact have bipolar disorder. And then because Carrie Fisher is a BAMF she also made it more okay to be a person with bipolar disorder–she showed that someone with bipolar can be successful and also kind and do good things for people. On bad days, bipolar disorder makes all three of those things really, really hard. She meant a lot not just as a role model for someone with bipolar disorder, but a role model for a mental illness advocate, and for living your live as unapologetically you.

  12. 0

    My girlfriend (who has adored her since childhood) and I got to meet Carrie Fisher at NYCC this, got a pic and signature, and it was worth every penny. When we got a moment to chat with her at signing, I wanted to thank her for speaking up about mental illness, and she said to me: “Well, I’m not ashamed of it. If we can get through that… then fuck ’em.” Words to live by.

  13. 0

    Part of me is very saddened by her death. The other part is even more pissed that Disney stripped her being a Jedi. In the REAL canon, not this bastardized version Disney created, she was a general, a diplomat, a warrior, a Jedi, a mother, and she led the Republic after Mon Motha was poisoned. When others ran or hid or despaired, she stood her ground, spoke her mind, and got the job done. Just like Carrie Fisher. She was Leia not because because she played Leia on the screen but because she lived her in everyday life.

    I don’t give a shit what Disney says Leia and Carrie are goddamn bad ass Jedi Masters. She has become one with the Force and will never be forgotten.

  14. 0

    Heather, your article gave me information I didn’t know, and it made me tear up. Thank you for being the writer you are, in the best vein of Carrie Fisher. You help give voice to the rest of us, and though I’m devastated, your article was also cathartic. I just can’t help but think about how we all need to gird ourselves with Carrie Fisher’s AND Princess Leia’s courage in the coming months and years. Dare to take up space. Dare to rebel. Refuse to be beaten down.

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