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The Tragic, Tumultuous and Triumphant Life of Actress Carrie Fisher

Plus, learn how Fisher's mother really felt about their relationship 


Three-time Emmy-nominated actress Carrie Fisher is someone everyone recognizes. From her work as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films to her adorable (but sometimes tumultuous) relationship with her mother, Debbie Reynolds and, finally, her unfortunate death in 2016, Fisher has certainly seen and done it all. And we found out all the details about the tragic, and terrific life of Carrie Fisher young. 

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Carrie Fisher young 

Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher young (1957)
Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher (1957) Hulton Archive / Stringer/Getty

Fisher was born on October 21, 1956 in Burbank, California. Her parents were actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher and, because of this, she grew up around show business, going to various sets and shows with her mother and father, but Fisher herself didn’t start acting until she was 19. Her first credit Warren Beatty’s Shampoo in 1975, after which she booked Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in 1977. 

Becoming Princess Leia 

The actress in 'Star Wars'
Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977) Sunset Boulevard / Contributor/Getty

In 1977, Fisher became the lovable and well-known Princess Leia Organa. When asked what drew her to the role of Leia, Fisher said, “He [George Lucas] wanted a fighter – he wanted someone who was independent, and that’s what appealed to me about that part.” 

Carrie Fisher young, Harrison Ford and Anthony Daniels in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford and Anthony Daniels in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980) Sunset Boulevard / Contributor/Getty

Fisher would play Princess Leia up until her death in 2016, appearing in Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (1983), Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015), Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) and Episode VIII – The Rise of Skywalker (2019). But Fisher died before filming had wrapped on Episode VIII – The Rise of Skywalker (2019) and had to be digitally added in. 

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the actress and harrison ford in 'Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens' (2015)
Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

The cast and crew also dedicated The Last Jedi to her,  with the words “In loving memory of our Princess, Carrie Fisher” appearing on the screen during the end credits.   

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Carrie Fisher Young: Life Outside of Star Wars 

Carrie Fisher Young in 'When Harry Met Sally'
Carrie Fisher in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ (1989) Pictures

Despite being known for her work as Princess Leia, Fisher actually has 96 credits to her name in total. Some notable works include When Harry Met Sally (1989), This Is My Life (1992), Scream 3 (2000) and The Women (2008).

She was also in one episode of 30 Rock in 2007 and five episodes of Catastrophe from 2005-2017. These earned her two different Emmy nominations in the Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series category. Fisher was the lead in the 2010 TV Movie Carrie Fisher: Wishful Drinking, earning her a nomination in the Outstanding Variety, Music or Comedy Special Emmy category. 

Fisher also has two Grammy nominations to her name in the Best Spoken Word Album category. One in 2010 and the other in 2018. 

The actress with her book 'Delusions Grandma' (1994)
Carrie Fisher with her book ‘Delusions Grandma’ (1994) Steve Granitz / Contributor/Getty

And if all of that wasn’t enough, she wrote eight books, helped write 12 different TV specials, was the screenwriter of Postcards from the Edge (1990) and These Old Broads (2001), and “doctored” the scripts for Sister Act (1992), Last Action Hero (1993), Anastasia (1997) and The Wedding Singer (1998).

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Fisher’s battle with addiction 

The actress in 1970
Carrie Fisher in 1970Michael Ochs Archives / Stringer/Getty

Along with growing up in the entertainment industry, Fisher also grew up in the L.A. party scene. At 13, shestarted smoking marijuana, and by the time she reached her early 20s, Fisher had done cocaine, heroin, painkillers and acid. 

Drugs made me feel more normal. They contained me.”  Fisher told Psychology Today in 2001. “I was lying to doctors and looking through people’s drawers and medicine cabinets for drugs.”

Carrie Fisher young in 1978
Carrie Fisher in 1978Lynn Goldsmith / Contributor/Getty

All of this led to Fisher being checked into rehab for the first time at age 28, after overdosing and ending up in the hospital with a tube down her throat following her stomach getting pumped. 

When asked about the incident that led to Fisher ending up in that situation, Reynolds said, “She [Fisher] was doing a film. She had collapsed on the set, and they had to take her to Cedars Sinai [hospital]. 

First of all, it was a terrifying night. It was just pouring rain, so you can picture you’re in the car with the rain smashing against the windshield and you’re crying like mad and you don’t know if your daughter is going to be alive when you get there. There have been a few times when I thought I was going to lose Carrie. I’ve had to walk through a lot of my tears. but she’s worth it.”

Carrie’s mental health problems

The actress in 1980
Carrie Fisher in 1980 Lynn Goldsmith / Contributor/Getty

Along with her addiction issues, Fisher was very open and honest with her mental health struggles, having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, addiction and alcoholism.

I’ve never been ashamed of my mental illness; it never occurred to me,” Fisher said in 2016. “Many people thank me for talking about it, and mothers can tell their kids when they are upset with the diagnosis that Princess Leia is bipolar, too.”

Fisher was honored with the Rona and Ken Purdy Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness in 2001 for her help in fighting the mental health discrimination and stigma.

Fisher’s complicated relationship with her mother 

Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher young in 1959
Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher in 1959Bettmann / Contributor/Getty

Fisher’s relationship with her mother wasn’t always easy, and there were even several periods of time when the two didn’t speak to each other, mainly because Fisher didn’t want to. 

“I didn’t want to be around her. I did not want to be Debbie Reynolds’ daughter,” Fisher said in 2011. 

Reynolds added on to that, recalling: “It was a total estrangement. She didn’t talk to me for probably 10 years. So that was the most difficult time of all. Very painful, very heartbreaking. 

“It’s very hard when your child doesn’t want to talk to you and you want to talk to them, and you want to touch them, you want to hold them.” 

the actress and Debbie Reynolds in 1990
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds in 1990 MediaPunch / Contributor/Getty

What led to the two rekindling was Reynolds’ second marriage to Harry Karl, who secretly gambled away both Reynolds and Fisher’s fortunes. It forced the two of them to speak to each other and finally begin to forgive and forget everything that had happened in the past.

I would say that Carrie and I have finally found happiness,” Reynolds said in 2011. “I admire her strength and survival. I admire that she is alive, that she has chosen to make it. It would have been easy to give up and give in and to keep doing drugs. I always feel, as a mother does, that I protect her. I want happiness for my daughter — I want Carrie to be happy.”

Carrie Fisher young and Debbie Reynold in 2015
Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynold in 2015 Jason LaVeris / Contributor/Getty

Reynolds and Fisher died within one day of each other in 2016, with Fisher passing away first. 

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Carrie Fisher Young: Her Personal Life

The actress and Paul Simon in 1980
Carrie Fisher and Paul Simon in 1980Images Press / Contributor/Getty

In 1983, Fisher married musician Paul Simon, a union that lasted less than a year.  Then, in 1992, she had her first and only child, Billie Lourd with Bryan Lourd. 

Carrie Fisher young, Debbie Reynolds and Billie Lourd in 2011
Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Billie Lourd in 2011Amanda Edwards / Contributor/Getty

Carrie Fisher died on December 27, 2016, from a heart attack. She was 60 years old. 

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