One of the final and most depressing celebrity losses of 2016 happened around the Christmas season. Star Wars actress and accomplished writer Carrie Fisher suffered a mid-flight heart attack, and unfortunately passed away four days later. This was quickly followed by her mother, legendary actress Debbie Reynolds, who had a stroke after reportedly saying she wanted to be with Carrie. Since then, Fisher's droves of fans have been both mourning and celebrating her iconic and influential life in the spot light. Part of her legacy is her advocacy work for those suffering from mental illness. She was "out" about her struggles during a time few celebrities were, and used her quick wit and signature comedy to shine a light on the issue, while also keeping things light and entertaining. And that comedic voice didn't stop with her unfortunate passing.
That's typical Carrie Fisher for you. Take the uncomfortable and tragic and turn it into hilarious magic. Once again, General Leia had the final laugh.
Carrie Fisher's career had been surrounded by a fair amount of controversy. Following the absolutely insane amount of fame she received for her portrayal of Princess Leia in the original Star Wars trilogy, she was obviously unable to live a "normal" life (although Fisher would tell you her life with mother Debbie Reynolds and father Eddie Fisher was already far from the norm). Fisher suffered from bipolar disorder, and would self medicate through recreational drug use, including a cocaine addiction. But Fisher also used prescribed medication to help regulate her chemicals including, you guessed it, the anti-depressant prozac.
Part of what makes Carrie Fisher such an icon was how open she was about her various struggles. Her 2008 memoir Wishful Drinking, as well as the one-woman show of the same name, chronicled her unorthodox life in the spotlight. In the work, Fisher revealed her struggle with addiction and mental health, including the various treatments she had undergone. While one's electroconvulsive therapy is typically a private matter, Fisher let the world in- helping to de-stigmatize mental illness.
But what people seemed to love most about Carrie Fisher is her wit and sense of humor. So it's fitting that even something as sad as her memorial service still included her trademark snark. Rest easy General, you're a gem even in death.
Carrie Fisher's final appearance as General Leia will be in the untitled Star Wars Episode VIII, which will be released on December 15th, 2017. And HBO's documentary Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds premiers tonight.