Carrie Fisher was 19 when Star Wars debuted in 1977, and she's remained in the public conciousness ever since as an activist and writer. She reprised her role as Princess Leia in 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens and recently released her memoir about the filming of the early Star Wars movies, The Princess Diarist — a book which, revealed her affair with (then married) co-star Harrision Ford, and reiterated her ambivalent feelings about the franchise.
The daughter of the pop singer Eddie Fisher and the actress Debbie Reynolds, Fisher battled mental health issues most of her life (as do many people living with HIV), and she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1985. As People magazine reports, she "subsequently became an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness."
In the 1990s, Fisher moved away from acting to focus on her writing career, publishing Surrender the Pink and Delusions of Grandma. But, according to People, she also "reportedly helped craft the scripts for numerous Hollywood films, going uncredited, for films like The Wedding Singer, Hook and Sister Act."
Delusions of Grandma, which debuted in 1993, included sections inspired by the impact of Rock Hudson's death from HIV complications, and Fisher's relationship with AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor. It was through Fisher's very close relationship with Taylor — who she often called her adoptive mother (Fisher's father left her mother for Taylor in the 50s) — that the younger woman became an early and ardent activist for people living with HIV.
Fisher suffered a heart attack Friday on a flight from London. She was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital where her status had been downgraded from critical to stable before passing away early Tuesday, December 27. She had reportedly been returning from shooting the forthcoming Star Wars Episode 8, which she was set to appear in. It's not been reported whether they had finished filming her scenes prior to her death. Her return to the Star Wars franchise coupled with her popularity with Millennials who came to love her through her hysterical cameos on 30 Rock and The Burbs, has cemented her global celebrity status for the next generation.