Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Feisty with spirit, spunk and wit: A tribute to Carrie Fisher

There has been a disturbance in the Force. Not just a tremor.

That's the kick-in-teeth response it's been for many of us over today's passing of Carrie Fisher, who will be forever remembered as the spirited and independent Princess Leia.

Photo courtesy of the "Star Wars" Facebook page
Simon Halls, a spokesman for her family, delivered the devastating news to PEOPLE in a statement that Fisher's daughter, "Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning."

Damn. I had been hoping for the best for Fisher, 60, who suffered a heart attack Friday on a flight bound for Los Angeles. My heart told me this strong-willed woman could pull through, but yes, I too knew the reality and outcome might be oh-so-different.

Actor Mark Hamill posted this publicity photo with his brief, three-word reaction
to the death of his onscreen sister.
Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, Leia's brother, gave a brief, yet pointed response to the news of Fisher's passing on Twitter: "no words #Devastated"

It is hard to put into words what Fisher means to us.

Thinking about her just before I started typing this, I realized Fisher's Leia probably was my first onscreen crush.

And since my first name, Cary, is a variation of hers, I had an added affection for the spunky actress who played an equally spunky, take-charge and take-no-crap-from-anybody princess.

Leia is a fiery woman, a leader in the David vs. Goliath space battle known as the Rebel Alliance taking on the oppressive Galactice Empire. She is an empowered woman who wasn't afraid to stand up to the biggest badass in the galaxy, Darth Vader, a man she later learned was her father, -- the very first time she meets him.
Meme by Cary Ashby/CARY'S COMICS CRAZE

It makes me wonder if Fisher's fireball personality was as much of an inspiration for Leia as anything that George Lucas had in mind when he put pen to paper. My bet is as he got to know Fisher, and/or soon after he cast her, he wrote Leia to fit the actress.

Lucas, in his statement to ROLLING STONE about Fisher's death, puts it so well: "She was extremely smart, a talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colorful personality that everyone loved. In 'Star Wars,' she was our great and powerful princess — feisty, wise and full of hope in a role that was more difficult than most people might think."

As we've all seen in the first "Star Wars" film and throughout the classic trilogy — and as I wrote in my Nov. 15, 2015 CCC op-ed about "Slave Leia," Princess Leia Organa is a woman of action and no damsel in distress. A great role model for feminism in action films indeed!

Fisher herself had a fiery personality. In each interview she gave, her wit and sly sense of humor came through.

Peter Mayhew, her co-star as Chewbacca, paid a beautiful homage to his good friend on Twitter and his "Peter Mayhew - The Wookiee Roars" Facebook page: "There are no words for this loss. Carrie was the brightest light in every room she entered. I will miss her dearly."

Carrie Fisher reprised her role of Princess Leia Organa, now called General
Organa, for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
We all will miss Fisher. I have read nearly all her books — so full of wisdom and insight. Having survived drug abuse and dealt with depression for much of her life, she had firsthand insight into the struggles she put before her semi-autobiographical character. And as always, Fisher wrote with the cutting wit for which she was known.

As Fisher aged and especially as she played Leia, now known as General Organa in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," I adored how she owned her middle-aged body. Fisher looks divine as the middle-aged Leia, who has the honor of saying the last line of the film: "May the Force be with you."

The "Star Wars" universe is not the same without its princess. May the Force indeed be with Fisher's family, friends, loved ones and co-stars.

There will never be another character like Leia. And no one could have done played her quite like Carrie Fisher.

I leave you with the words of Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy: “Carrie holds such special place in the hearts of everyone at Lucasfilm it is difficult to think of a world without her. She was Princess Leia to the world, but a very special friend to all of us. She had an indomitable spirit, incredible wit and a loving heart. Carrie also defined the female hero of our age over a generation ago. Her groundbreaking role as Princess Leia served as an inspiration of power and confidence for young girls everywhere. We will miss her dearly.”

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