By: Hannah Hawkins
We all know 2016 was a rough year. The United States had one wild presidential race and election, and it seemed like we lost a few too many celebrities, two of which were Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.
For those who are unaware, Carrie Fisher reached her claim to fame when she portrayed the fictional Princess Leia in the early Star Wars film franchise. She suffered a heart attack on December 23, 2016 and passed on December 27, 2016. Fisher’s legendary role as Princess Leia proved to be influential as a strong female role for many Star Wars fans.
Not only was Fisher known for the film franchise, she was a huge mental health advocate as well. Fisher suffered from bipolar disorder and was very open about her struggles with the mental disease. She wrote in several memoirs about her struggles with addiction and recovery, revealing that she developed a cocaine addiction during the filming of The Empire Strikes Back. During Fisher’s later years, she adopted a French Bulldog named Gary to help her with her bipolar disorder. Fisher even had her ashes placed into a ceramic Percocet pill that her brother Todd carried on the day of her and her mother’s funeral.
On the first day of filming Star Wars, director George Lucas told Fisher that she couldn’t wear a bra with her iconic white outfit because “there is no underwear in space.” In her memoir, Wishful Drinking, Fisher explained how in space your body expands, but your bra doesn’t. Therefore, you could get strangled by your own bra. “Now I think that would be a fantastic obit — so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.” — Carrie Fisher.
Debbie Reynolds died on December 28, 2016, a day after her daughter Carrie’s tragic passing. Her son Todd said that just moments before she passed, she said “I want to be with Carrie,” proving to be her last words. Reynolds is best known for her role as Kathy Selden in the hit movie-musical Singin’ in the Rain in 1952 alongside co-stars Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. She states that Gene Kelly helped to make her a star, teaching her how to dance, work hard, and be dedicated. In 1973, she provided her voice for the role of Charlotte the spider in the movie, Charlotte’s Web. She also played Grace Adler’s mother in the NBC sitcom, Will & Grace. Reynolds reached out and touched the hearts of the younger generation, playing the role of Grandma Aggie Cromwell in the Disney Channel Halloweentown series.
Other than her fame in Hollywood, Reynolds and other famous Hollywood stars such as Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers, Rita Moreno, and others were among the first Hollywood actors to publicly appear in AIDS commercials during a time when people were afraid to even bring up the words HIV/AIDS.
We never really know how attached we are to celebrities until they are gone. This mother-daughter duo proved just that. My mother used to sing “Good Morning” from Reynolds’ film Singin’ in the Rain when I was younger, and my grandparents have the original Star Wars films, so when Carrie and Debbie both passed, I was deeply saddened. The legacies that both of these iconic women left behind will never be forgotten.
Hannah Hawkins, from Illiopolis, Illinois is a Junior here at Illinois College and is majoring in Communication and Rhetorical Studies and minoring in Theatre. She is a Contributing Writer and the Web Designer for the Illinois College Newspaper, The Rambler. Hannah is a very active member in the theatre department and loves her dog more than most people.