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Appreciation: Carrie Fisher will forever be 'Star Wars' royalty

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 12/27/2016
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The nerds never got the cheerleader or the homecoming queen. No matter. We had a princess.

Carrie Fisher, who died Tuesday at age 60 after suffering a heart attack Dec. 23 on a flight, had a long career in Hollywood, appearing on TV shows and movies and even fostering a side gig as a best-selling author. But ever since she blasted into sci-fi fans’ hearts as one of the young stars in George Lucas’ original Star Wars, she was Princess Leia, the spunky and sassy girl in hair buns who stared down Darth Vader and became a cinematic icon for decades to come.

And as much as she was loath to admit it at times in those nearly 40 years, Fisher loved Star Wars. She wrote as much in her The Princess Diarist memoir this year and said so a year ago to USA TODAY, when she was out promoting her role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and deciding to do her interview happily sprawled on a hotel bed with her ever-present French bulldog Gary.

She was, by definition of the word, a hoot. In interviews, Fisher didn't just talk, she held court.

"She’s me and I'm her and it’s kind of a Möbius strip," Fisher said of Leia, now a general in the Resistance in The Force Awakens and upcoming Episode VIII. "I carry her around and I know her better than anybody else and we wear the same clothes a lot of times. She's mine." © Century Fox/Rex/Shutterstock

But Leia was a fighter, and that's what Fisher gave to her. She didn't back down from the Empire. When Han and Luke rescue her, she's the one nonchalantly picking up a blaster and going to town on Stormtroopers. When Jabba the Hutt puts her in a metal slave bikini when she's trying save her man Han in Return of the Jedi? Well, Leia choked him out good. Fisher gave Leia her all, whether it was being feisty or simply fearless.

Fisher battled alcoholism, drug addiction, depression and bipolar disorder, yet was always honest and even self-deprecating about it in interviews and her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards From the Edge and memoir Wishful Drinking. The fanbase, the boys and girls and later men and women who would buy Leia action figures and Leia Pez dispensers and Leia shampoo bottles, always cheered her on.

"People bring me their kids like I’m going to bless them but they’re like 2 months old and they’re already in a Princess Leia outfit," Fisher said. "I always think they swallowed the outfit and gave birth to the kid wearing the hairy earphones."

We love you, Carrie. But you knew.

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