Carrie Fisher 1956-2016: Good Night, Sweet Princess

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, inundated and oversaturated with fabricated camera-groomed celebrity royalty, there lived a people’s princess...

She was everything a princess should be: smart, bold, beautiful, independent, witty and dead on with a blaster. Luke Skywalker once foolishly thought he was there to rescue her. He should have listened closer to the holographic message she embedded in that R2 unit. She did not say “SAVE ME, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” She said “HELP ME, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.” She was a different kind of princess than the ones that had come before her. One that was not going to wait idly by to be saved but one determined to take an active role in her destiny. She was the antidote to all the passive doe-eyed Disney princesses waiting to be awoken with a kiss that came before her. And she became the template for all the take charge pop culture heroines who followed her from “Alien’s” Ripley to “The Hunger Games’” Katniss.

To this day she remains the only royalty I have ever found worth acknowledging.

As has been duly noted in the steady stream of remembrances that have flowed since her passing Carrie Fisher was far more than just her iconic role as “Star Wars’” Princess Leia. She was a noted Hollywood script doctor, memoirist, and an accomplished author who penned one of the most striking opening lines in modern fiction in her debut novel Postcards From the Edge: “Maybe I shouldn’t have given the guy who pumped my stomach my phone number, but who cares?”

I know all this.

I know all this

I know all this.

Yet, whenever I would see Carrie Fisher on a talk show, book festival or convention panel I couldn’t stop my nerd-wired mind from penciling in Princess Leia buns on either side of her head. Try as I might I was never quite able to separate her from her most famous role. Part of that indelible association is seeded in the fact that the individualistic spirit and fierce integrity that Carrie Fisher brought to Leia was not a cinematic conceit, it was all her.

The last time I caught Carrie Fisher was at a Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. She arrived at the “Date With a Princess” panel barefoot carrying her beloved French bulldog Gary. She conducted the panel without the safety net of the usual pre-scripted answers gone over with a publicist and blasted from the hip to an arena full of wild-eyed Star Wars fans. The audience howled in adoration as she let out a barrage of four letter words and then moments later apologized to any children in the auditorium for her crass language. “For any children in the audience tonight, please do not use any words you heard Princess Leia say tonight when you return to the schoolyard tomorrow.”

The warm cries of “We Love You, Carrie” only multiplied after she gave her perfectly-timed comic apology.

I waited over four hours to get into that panel. Four hours I would gladly wait again. I feel I speak for anyone there with me in that large auditorium when I say you left with a smile feeling like you’d just spent an hour with an incredibly genuine, warm, funny and flawed individual. Someone who refused to be pre-packaged for easy consumption. Someone who did not suffer fools gladly, even those who worshipped at her feet. Someone who refused to transform herself into something she had no interest in being for the sake of a perfectly coiffed image. And, in the end, was someone who was universally loved not in spite of all this but because of all this.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet princess; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.