On December 27, four days after suffering a massive heart attack on an 11-hour flight from London to Los Angeles, iconic screen goddess Carrie Fisher passed away. She was not just Princess Leia, a badass female revolutionary fighter, whose wry wit and determination paved the way for characters like Sarah Michelle Gellar’s Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, and Sigourney Weaver’s Eileen Ripley. She was the Princess that defied her father Darth Vader and Tarkin, refused to be enslaved by Jabba the Hutt (killed him with her chains), and saved the boys from imminent doom. Unlike those before her, Carrie’s Leia defied space, time, and gravity. What people keep forgetting is that she was also a prolific writing phenom. Her coveted funny novels and one-woman shows were part Norman Lear, a touch of Mel Brooks, and a sprinkle of George Carlin. But she was all woman, empowered by her endless intelligence and stronghold by a profound humility never really seen before just by the mere display of privilege she had as a child prodigy born into celebrity royalty (Debbie Reynolds of Singin’ in the Rain fame is her vivacious mother) and the later seen as the most iconic female figure in cinematic pop-culture since Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara.
She fought against the stigma of mental illness and became a fierce crusader against Hollywood’s devotion to ageism and misogyny. She killed fascism with her chains and was quick to her word as a staunch devotee of the truth.
Fisher once wrote in her memoir, Wishful Drinking, that she would like her obituary to read this:
“You go into space and you become weightless,” Fisher recalled Lucas saying. “Then your body expands but your bra doesn’t, so you get strangled by your own underwear.”
Years later, Fisher thought that story would make for a “fantastic obituary,” writing in her book, “I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I wanted it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”
Postcards from the Edge (1987): Fisher’s first novel tells the semi-autobiographical story of a film actress working her way through rehabilitation for drug addiction by writing in a journal and sending postcards to her loved ones. Its absurdist humor was mostly well received, and it came to define Fisher’s writing style. She later adapted the book into a screenplay, which became a critically acclaimed film starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. (It’s currently streaming on Amazon, iTunes, and a lot of other rent-online services.) Fisher’s 2004 novel The Best Awful There Is is considered an unofficial sequel.
Surrender the Pink (1990): A crassly titled romance novel, Surrender the Pink is about a soap opera screenwriter who falls in and out of love with an imperfect man and finds it difficult to separate showbiz from reality.
Delusions of Grandma (1993): Another semi-autobiographical novel, this one is about a screenwriter named Cora who develops a paranoid fear of dying in childbirth. The novel is made up of Cora’s letters to her unborn child, which tell her life story.
These Old Broads (2001): Fisher wrote the screenplay for this TV movie, which starred Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins, Reynolds, and Taylor, in her final role before her 2011 death. Fisher also did uncredited work on the screenplays for The Blues Brothers, Sister Act, The Wedding Singer, many of the Star Wars films, and over a dozen others.
Wishful Drinking (2008): Fisher’s first memoir was based on her one-woman Off-Broadway show of the same name. The book deals with Fisher’s famous family: her mother, Singin’ In The Rain actress/singer Debbie Reynolds; her father, singer Eddie Fisher, and their divorce after Eddie Fisher left Reynolds to pursue an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. It also covers Fisher’s mental illness, addiction, and the absurdities of Hollywood — including a fantastic anecdote in which George Lucas tries to convince Fisher that no one wears bras in space. (Which is factually inaccurate, as well as a gross thing to insist on.)
An HBO documentary about the production of Wishful Drinking is also available to stream.
Shockaholic (2011): Fisher’s second memoir breaks down into a few long sections. One returns to her mental illness: She details with candid, self-effacing humor how electroshock therapy helped her with depression, but left her memory full of holes. (She cites that as the reason for writing another memoir — so she’d have a record of the things in her life she was bound to forget.) Other segments deal with her friendship with Michael Jackson — she saw herself as one of the few people iconic enough to relate to him comfortably — and her relationship with her father, whom she reconnected with late in life, and took care of until his death. Fisher tends to fall back on punny, irreverent humor as a defense against vulnerability, but she shows plenty of that vulnerability here as well.
The Princess Diarist (2016): Fisher’s last memoir was released in November 2016, and incorporates the diaries she kept while working on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. In the book, she confirms a long-rumored on-set affair with her co-star Harrison Ford — to the great thrill of gossip magazine editors (and fan fiction writers) everywhere. Though there wasn’t much else for scandal-seekers, the book is notable for showing a 60-year-old icon looking back at a 19-year-old’s naïve behavior, and how it affected the rest of her life. She was touring to support the book when she died.
Carrie Fisher’s frankness to boldly speak about mental illness, nepotism, a terrible father who never was a father was open and honest and it’s with deep sadness to write that today, there was a disturbance in the Force. Goodnight General Leia Organa.