2016 has been a year marked with much loss in the celebrity world, and this past week the passing of the beloved stars Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds has only added to the grief.
Carrie Fisher was born in the spotlight to her famous parents entertainer Eddie Fisher and legendary actress Debbie Reynolds. Carrie debuted in the movie Shampoo in 1975 when she was 18 years old opposite Warren Beatty. But her defining role was playing the iconic heroine Princess Leia in the sci-fi series Star Wars. Her character was feisty, wise, and bold enough to stand up to Darth Vader. Fisher reprised the role of Leia in Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the age of 59. She also appeared in more than 90 film and tv productions including Hannah and Her Sisters, When Harry Met Sally…, and The Blues Brothers.
Fisher was also an acclaimed author, writing screenplays and eight books including the semi-autobiographical comedic novel Postcards from the Edge about an actress who is a recovering addict. It was later turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep. And just recently, she released the memoire entitled The Princess Diarist in which she revealed she had an affair with her Star Wars costar Harrison Ford when she was 19 years old.
Carrie Fisher died at the age of 60 due to a heart attack just days after falling critically ill while traveling on an airplane. She left behind her mother, the talented Debbie Reynolds, who in turn posted, “I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop. Love Carrie’s Mother.”
But in a sudden turn of events, Carrie’s brother, Todd Fisher, describes how his mom said, “I want to be with Carrie.” He told the AP, “And then she was gone. She’s now with Carrie, and we’re all heartbroken.” Sadly, Debbie died at the age of 84 just one day after losing her daughter. The cause of death has been described as a severe stroke, but many argue she died from a broken heart. Indeed, Reynolds was at her daughter’s home in Beverly Hills helping to plan Carrie’s funeral when she suffered the stroke.
Debbie Reynolds is most remembered for the iconic role of Kathy Selden in the celebrated musical film Singin’ in the Rain. In one of the popular scenes, a 19-year-old Debbie Reynolds, alongside Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, performs the exuberant song-and-dance number Good Morning which can be seen in the clip below. Other films the multi-talented Reynolds starred in include How the West Was Won, Tammy and the Bachelor, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
The mother and daughter were known to be very devoted to one another through all the ups and downs in their relationship. Carrie had a brutally honest demeanor and spoke openly about her personal struggles over the years. Whether it be her challenges with bipolar disorder, drug addictions, or the strained relationship with her mother, Carrie felt compelled to share these stories with the world. Even in the end, the mother and daughter’s homes shared the same driveway, and they spoke with each other every day.
The upcoming HBO documentary Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher chronicles the unbreakable bond between the two stars over the past 60 years. The HBO Documentary Films president Sheila Nevins told Variety that it’s a “love story about a mother and daughter” which “Carrie wanted to make…for Debbie, and Debbie wanted to make it for Carrie.” The premiere for the documentary will only be set after careful consideration due to the circumstances.
But here are some quotes by Carrie about her mother to give a glimpse of their rapport:
“If anything, my mother taught me how to sur-thrive. That’s my word for it. She would go through these amazingly difficult things, and the message was clear: Doing the impossible is possible. It’s just not fun,” she once told the New York Times during an interview.
During a 2015 SAG Awards speech Carrie said of her mom, “She has been more than a mother to me. Not much, but definitely more. She’s been an unsolicited stylist, interior decorator, and marriage counselor.”
And earlier this year, Carrie told NPR, “She annoys me sometimes when she’s mad at the nurses, but she’s an extraordinary woman. Extraordinary. There’s very few women from her generation who worked like that, who just kept going all her life, and raised children, and had horrible relationships, and lost all her money, and got it back again. I mean, she’s had an amazing life, and she’s someone to admire.”
Rest in peace, Carrie and Debbie.