Iconic Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher dies at 60

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LOS ANGELES -- Actress Carrie Fisher, whose grit and wit made "Star Wars'" Princess Leia an iconic and beloved figure to millions of moviegoers, died Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was 60.

Fisher died four days after suffering a cardiac event on a flight from London, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Learn More: What are heart failure, heart attack and cardiac arrest?

The actress and advocate who got her start in Hollywood in 1975 in the film "Shampoo," was the daughter of screen legend Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher.

Her big break as an actress had come just a few years after she dropped out of high school to appear alongside her mother on Broadway.

 

It was 1977 and she beat out the likes of Jodie Foster and Amy Irving for the part of Leia in George Lucas' "Star Wars." The tough-as-nails princess was strong and independent -- and the role positioned Fisher in the decades that followed as something of a feminist icon.

"I was trained in celebrity, so I did the only thing I knew," Fisher once told Rolling Stone. "I went into the family business."

"Forty-three years ago, George Lucas ruined my life," she wrote in her book, "Wishful Drinking." "And I mean that in the nicest possible way."

Tributes immediately flooded social media.

"I'm deeply saddened at the news of Carrie's passing. She was a dear friend, whom I greatly respected and admired. The force is dark today!" tweeted her "Star Wars" co-star Billy Dee Williams.

Actor William Shatner, star of the "Star Trek" TV series, tweeted, "I'm deeply saddened to learn of the death of Carrie Fisher. I will miss our banterings. A wonderful talent & light has been extinguished.

Actor Joe Mantegna tweeted: "Carrie always made me smile to be around her. My heartfelt condolence to all her family."

Fisher wrote about not loving the exposure that came with the success -- or the characteristic hairstyle, which she called "idiotic."

"I weighed about 105 at the time, but to be fair, I carried about fifty of those pounds in my face! So you know what a good idea would be? Give me a hairstyle that further widens my already wide face," she wrote.

She became a star alongside Harrison Ford, with whom she eventually revealed she'd been romantically involved for a brief time while filming the first "Star Wars" movie.

Nearly four decades after the first "Star Wars," the actress reprised her most iconic role in 2015's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

Fisher fired back at fans who mocked her for having aged since her last appearance in a "Star Wars" movie, tweeting "Please stop debating about whether OR not I aged well. unfortunately it hurts all of my feelings."

In the years between "Star Wars" gigs, Fisher published multiple books, including a memoir, "The Princess Diarist." She also was known around Hollywood as a script doctor, having worked on such films as "The Wedding Singer" and "Sister Act."

Fisher spoke openly about her struggles with alcoholism and bipolar disorder. She was an advocate for mental health awareness and treatment.

"There are a couple of reasons why I take comfort in being able to put all this in my own vernacular and present it to you," she wrote in "Wishful Drinking," after detailing her diagnosis and an overdose incident. "For one thing, because then I'm not completely alone with it. And for another, it gives me a sense of being in control of the craziness."

Fisher was married to Paul Simon for less than a year from 1983-84.

Here's a look at the life of actress and writer Carrie Fisher:

Personal: Birth date: October 21, 1956

Birth place: Beverly Hills, California

Birth name: Carrie Frances Fisher

Father: Eddie Fisher, singer

Mother: Debbie Reynolds, actress and singer

Marriages: Paul Simon (August 1983-July 1984, divorced)

Children: with Bryan Lourd: Billie Catherine Lourd

Education: Attended Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London

Other Facts: Nominated for two Emmy Awards.

Has acted in film, plays, and television, and written a number of best-selling books.

Fisher has lobbied as an advocate for mental health awareness and treatment and has spoken before the California State Senate.

She was diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder, "I was diagnosed at 24, but I had been seeing a therapist since I was about 15. I didn't like the diagnosis...Then I overdosed at 28, at which point I began to accept the bipolar diagnosis."

She credits the psychiatric hospital Silver Hill in New Canaan, Connecticut, with helping her get her life back together after treatment for alcohol addiction and bipolar disorder. "It was one of the best places I was ever institutionalized."

Fisher is the well-respected script-doctor of such movies as "The Wedding Singer" and "Sister Act."

Timeline: 1972 - Drops out of high school at age 15 to appear on Broadway in the musical "Irene," starring her mother, Debbie Reynolds.

1975 - Film debut in the movie "Shampoo," starring Warren Beatty.

1977 - Stars as Princess Leia in the first "Star Wars" film.

1980 - Stars in "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back."

1983 - Stars in "Star Wars: Episode VI - The Return of the Jedi."

1990 - Release of the film adaptation of Fisher's novel, "Postcards from the Edge," starring Meryl Streep. The screenplay is also written by Fisher.

February 26, 2005 - Friend and Republican media adviser R. Gregory "Greg" Stevens is found dead in Fisher's home.

November 15, 2006 - Her one-woman biographical play, "Wishful Drinking," is produced in Los Angeles.

December 2008 - Publishes the memoir, "Wishful Drinking," based on her 2006 one-woman play.

December 12, 2010 - Fisher's documentary, "Wishful Drinking," airs on HBO.

November 2011 - Her memoir, "Shockaholic," is published.

December 14, 2015 - Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens premieres, with Fisher, along with Mark Hamill ("Luke Skywalker") and Harrison Ford ("Han Solo") reprising their original 1977 roles.

November 16, 2016 - Fisher reveals to People magazine she and co-star Harrison "Han Solo" Ford had an affair during the 1976 filming of "Star Wars."

December 23, 2016 - Is hospitalized after suffering a cardiac event aboard a United Airlines flight from London to Los Angeles.