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'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher dies at 60 following heart attack

Ethan Miller, Getty Images North America/AFP | US actress Carrie Fisher attends the premiere of Walt Disney Pictures and Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on December 14, 2015.

"Star Wars" actress Carrie Fisher, who played the iconic Princess Leia, died at the age of 60 on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack last week.


The American actress was enjoying a new turn in the spotlight with a tour promoting her latest memoir and a reprisal of her star-making role in last year's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Fisher was returning from the London leg of a book tour on Friday when she collapsed 15 minutes before landing in Los Angeles.

"It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning," family spokesman Simon Halls said in a statement Tuesday on behalf of Fisher's daughter, given to People magazine.

Her “Star Wars” co-star Mark Hamill, who played her twin brother Luke Skywalker, tweeted just three words in response to the news of her death: “No words. Devastated.”

Born in Los Angeles in October 1956, Fisher was catapulted to worldwide stardom as rebel warrior Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" trilogy, which has been a worldwide cultural phenomenon since the release of the films from 1977 to 1983.

Asked at a news conference last year what she remembered of her scenes in "Return of the Jedi", she recalled having fun killing Leia's jailer, Jabba the Hutt.

"They asked me on the day if I wanted to have a stunt double kill Jabba. No! That's the best time I ever had as an actor," she said.

"And the only reason to go into acting is if you can kill a giant monster."

Fisher's mother was movie star Debbie Reynolds, best known for her leading role in "Singin' In The Rain", and her father was singer Eddie Fisher. Her parents' marriage came to an end when Fisher left Reynolds for actress Elizabeth Taylor, who was Reynolds' close friend.

A look at some of Princess Leia's best moments, courtesy Stormcab on YouTube

The early 1980s were marked by problems with alcohol, drugs and depression for Fisher, who appeared in a number of critical flops, including "Under the Rainbow" (1981) and "Hollywood Vice Squad" (1986).

She was widely praised for her performance in the hit 1989 comedy "When Harry Met Sally" but began to turn her back on acting in favour of writing.

Fisher soon became known for her searingly honest semi-autobiographical writing, including her best-selling debut "Postcards from the Edge", which was turned into a film of the same name in 1990 starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

'Unhappy experiences'

A talented screenwriter, Fisher has also revised numerous successful scripts, including "Sister Act" (1992), "Outbreak" (1995) and "The Wedding Singer" (1998).

In various interviews over the years she has been forthcoming about her bipolar disorder and addiction to prescription drugs and cocaine, which she admitted using also on the set of "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980).

Asked by Vanity Fair in 2006 how she persuaded "Star Wars" director George Lucas to give her the part of Princess Leia, she jokingly said: "I slept with some nerd. I hope it was George."

She "took too many drugs to remember", she added.

Fisher has also openly discussed being treated with electroconvulsive therapy, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain to treat depression.

In her first advice column for The Guardian newspaper, entitled "Advice from the dark side", she promised to "provide solicited advice, based on a life filled with pratfalls and accidents". Fisher told her readers that the addictions, heartbreak and mental illnesses she had endured amounted to a "fair share of challenging and unhappy experiences".

"Over time, I've paid attention, taken notes and forgotten easily half of everything I've gone through. But I'll rifle through the half I recall and lay it at your feet," she said.

Her just-released memoir, "The Princess Diarist", is based on journals she kept while filming the "Star Wars" trilogy.

The memoir recently made headlines for a section in which Fisher admitted to having had a three-month affair with co-star Harrison Ford while filming "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope" in 1976.

Fisher and Ford were 19 and 33 at the time, respectively, and Ford was still married to his first wife, Mary Marquardt.

Fisher was briefly married to singer and songwriter Paul Simon in the 1980s. The father of her daughter Billie, who is also an actress, is talent agent Bryan Lourd.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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