Gotta say, I was never a hard-core Star Wars fan, so I’m not the guy to read if you want warm remembrances of how great Carrie Fisher was in that franchise. No, for me, Fisher — who has died at age 60 — was a wonderful writer, storyteller, humorist, and performer of her own material. Or perhaps I should say: performer of her own life, whether it was transmuted onstage in her one-woman show Wishful Drinking, in her novel (and subsequent film) Postcards From the Edge, or on TV (including Amazon’s Catastrophe) and on talk shows, where she was always ready with a tartly funny line or a quick response to something a host might have said.
Fisher, the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, was born into Hollywood prominence, if not exactly royalty. (She had to go to George Lucas to be crowned a princess.) She said she had as normal a childhood as one could have “if you attended Beverly Hills High School.” Like so many children of celebrities, she had the opportunity to abuse all sorts of substances, and her recovery from alcoholism was a particularly admirable and honest one.
Look at this interview she did with David Letterman in 2009. It is effortlessly funny and fascinating. She talks about hiring two strippers for her father when he turned 81; about taking LSD and having her mom call Cary Grant (who’d dropped acid under medical supervision himself) for advice; and when Letterman, ticking through the list of her life achievements, notes that she was married to Paul Simon, she takes an exquisitely timed pause and says, “Oh, that’s right!” Her remarks about Simon skyrocket past the sexist notion of “cattiness” and land straight in the heart of wicked, witty malice.
Fisher’s legacy will be Star Wars primarily, of course, and she knew it. Not for nothing was her final book called The Princess Diarist. But she was a lot more than the co-star in a worldwide phenomenon. She was strong and sarcastic, yet very open and alive to every moment she was on camera or on a stage, very much in touch with every emotion. It’s dreadful that she should die at a mere 60 years old.