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10 reasons why Carrie Fisher was much more than Princess Leia

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In a dismal capper to a dreadful year of gifted people dying before their time, Carrie Fisher died Tuesday at age 60, following a heart attack the actress and writer suffered on a plane from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23.

There are many reasons to mourn Fisher, who had come to seem indestructible. She had already survived a legendary list of highs and lows. As the daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, she was born into the blinding light of Hollywood celebrity and scandal. Her own career included the dizzying heights of "Star Wars" fame, as well as her well-documented struggles with drug abuse and her bipolar disorder.

Through it all, Fisher was frank, funny, and blunt. Many of us were probably already looking forward to the black humor Fisher would bring to telling us about this latest postcard from the edge, which occurred just as Fisher was riding high on the success of her latest book, "The Princess Diarist," an account from her own diaries about playing Princess Leia in "Star Wars," and her affair with costar Harrison Ford.

But this most recent battle was one Fisher wasn't able to win.

The year 2017 already seems darker, knowing that Fisher won't be there, sharing her irreverent, unfiltered opinions and giving interviews accompanied by her dog, Gary. But we can remember her. Here are just some of the ways Carrie Fisher was one of a kind.

  • She was a one-woman bridge between Old Hollywood and contemporary show business: Fisher's extraordinary life began in 1956, when she was born to Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher. At the time, Reynolds was a movie star, whose girl-next-door image had been established in numerous comedies and musicals, including "Singin' in the Rain." Fisher was a pop singer, with an enthusiastic following. But Fisher left Reynolds, and Carrie and her brother Todd, after he began an affair with Elizabeth Taylor, who he married in 1959. The Fisher/Taylor affair was an epic scandal, and the public sided with Reynolds and her children, who were portrayed in countless stories as saintly victims, as opposed to the adulterous seductress Taylor.
  • She was a princess (and more) for the ages: Fisher has written about feeling insecure regarding her looks and abilities when she was cast as Princess Leia in "Star Wars." But George Lucas saw in the young Fisher the qualities that would make her a key component in the "Star Wars" universe. Fisher's Leia was anything but a conventional heroine. She was strong, tomboyish and brave, and when "Star Wars" became the pop culture phenomenon it has remained, Fisher was always up to the task. She could be soft, as when confessing her love to Han Solo in "The Empire Strikes Back," and determined, as General Leia Organa in last year's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."
  • She didn't take criticism lying down: When idiots on the Internet took potshots at Fisher's appearance in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Fisher responded on Twitter: "Please stop debating whether or not I aged well," she wrote. "Unfortunately it hurts all three of my feelings." She later followed up with the sage observation, "Youth and beauty are not accomplishments."
  • She didn't let herself off the hook: Before tell-all memoirs became common currency, Fisher was honest and open about her own mistakes and mishaps. Her 1987 novel, "Postcards From the Edge," was inspired by her own life, history of drug addiction, and complicated relationship with her mother. She was also open about her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and advocated for mental health awareness. In her memoir, "Wishful Drinking," Fisher also shared details about discovering that the father of her daughter, Billie Lourd (who costars in the Fox series, "Scream Queens") was gay, her marriage to Paul Simon, and other real-life anecdotes.
  • She was a talented actress: From her breakout role as a disturbingly sexually precocious teenager in "Shampoo" (1975), Fisher was adept and entertaining, whether being part of the ensemble in "Hannah and Her Sisters," or guest-starring on "30 Rock."
  • She was a talented writer: In addition to her novels and memoirs, Fisher was for many years a busy script doctor, doing behind-the-scenes work polishing scripts for such movies as "Sister Act," "The Wedding Singer" and "Hook."
  • She didn't take herself too seriously: As her 1978 stint hosting "Saturday Night Live" up to recent interviews with Terry Gross of "Fresh Air," and her appearance on BBC America's "The Graham Norton Show" remind us, Fisher always kept a sense of humor about herself. Whether whether making fun of her cinnamon-bun hairstyle in "Star Wars" or her metal bikini costume in "The Return of the Jedi," Fisher was anything but pompous.
  • She survived the "Star Wars Holiday Special": The 1978 "Star Wars Holiday Special" is infamous among fans for its cheesy attempts at cashing in on the popularity of "Star Wars," and a cast of guest stars (Art Carney, Bea Arthur, Harvey Korman) who had nothing to do with the movie.
  • She stayed busy, and relevant: Fisher's remarkable career just kept going, as fans of the critically acclaimed "Catastrophe" can attest. The clever comedy, filmed in Britain, and streaming on Amazon, is co-created by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney. Fisher made memorable appearances as the mother of Delaney's character.
  • She was always, and unforgettably, herself: Whether giving interviews accompanied by her dog, Gary, or prolifically posting to Twitter, Fisher was unique, unpredictable and honest. There will never be anyone like her.