Carrie Fisher, an actor and writer who became iconic in the role of Star Wars’ Princess Leia, has died after suffering a heart attack at age 60.
"It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning," reads a statement from Fisher's daughter. "She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers."
With the blockbuster success of George Lucas's 1977 space opera, Fisher — then only 20 years old — became one of film's most recognizable faces almost overnight. Two equally successful sequels (The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983) turned the film into a pop-culture juggernaut, with Fisher appearing on merchandise from action figures to bedsheets. Over three decades later, Fisher returned to reprise the role in last year's Star Wars: The Force Awakens alongside costars Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.
Previous to the success of Star Wars, Fisher was best-known as a child of Hollywood royalty: her mother was actor Debbie Reynolds and her father was singer Eddie Fisher. Though Princess Leia was by far and away her most famous role, Fisher also had memorable turns in films including The Blues Brothers (1980), Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), and When Harry Met Sally (1989).
She was married once — briefly, to musician Paul Simon. She has a daughter, actress Billie Lourd (Scream Queens), from a later relationship with talent agent Bryan Lourd. Fisher has also been romantically tied to stars including Dan Aykroyd and Ford, with whom she recently confirmed she had a love affair during the filming of Star Wars.
Possessed of one of the sharpest wits in the business, Fisher chronicled her tumultuous youth and her Hollywood adventures — including her struggles with substance abuse — in a series of books and semi-autobiographical novels, as well as a live one-woman performance. Her 1987 novel Postcards from the Edge was adapted as a 1990 movie starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep. Most recently, she published the memoir The Princess Diarist earlier this year.
Fisher's intelligence and warmth shone through in the Star Wars films; her chemistry with Ford and Hamill helped the films transcend their b-movie inspirations and set a new bar for quality in action and adventure films. When Force Awakens was released, she delighted fans with her deadpan quips in interviews like a Good Morning America spot where she brought her pet dog and kept host Amy Robach in stitches.
Asked in that interview about returning to her Star Wars role, Fisher replied, "I've been Princess Leia for 40 years. So, what, I'm going to stop now when it's really ridiculous to be someone named 'Princess Leia'?" Fisher went on to say that "I got in character and I never got out again — and really, I've tried everything."