Widely known for her role as Princess Leia Organa in George Lucas’s Star Wars films, actress and mental health activist Carrie Fisher passed away Dec. 27 at the age of 60. CNN reports that Fisher was rushed to UCLA Medical Center after suffering from a heart attack on a flight to Los Angeles,and passed away soon after.
Fisher’s death provoked an emotional response from the Hollywood community. Star Wars co-stars Harrison Ford, known for his role as Han Solo, and Mark Hamill, known for his role as Luke Skywalker, took to Twitter to express their devastation, describing Fisher as “one-of-a-kind, brilliant and emotionally fearless.” Star Wars creator George Lucas also issued a statement, calling Fisher “our powerful princess” and “a talented actress [and] writer… with a colorful personality that everyone loved.”
Outside of her Star Wars role as the strong and fiercely independent Princess Leia who served as an icon for female empowerment, Fisher made her Hollywood debut in the 1975 film Shampoo. Fisher was also considered a skilled writer. She wrote several memoirs including Wishful Drinking and Shockaholic in which she detailed her struggles with drug addiction, depression and bipolar disorder.
In addition to being an author, Fisher was a mental health activist. After battles with drug addiction, she was diagnosed with severe depression and, eventually, bipolar disorder. Fisher spoke candidly about her condition, fighting to end the stigma surrounding mental illnesses.
“I am mentally ill. I can say that. I am not ashamed of that. I survived that; I’m still surviving it, but bring it on,” she said.
From fighting against the Galactic Empire as Princess Leia to fighting mental illness, Carrie Fisher leaves behind a legacy as, in the words of Star Wars co-star Peter Mayhew, “the brightest light in every room.” She is survived by her daughter, actress Billie Lourd, and her beloved dog Gary.