2016 Hoydens: Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher

When word came through of Carrie Fisher’s heart attack, and then of her death, and almost immediately after that of the death of her mother, Debbie Reynolds many of us felt we had been dealt a particularly harsh blow. No matter how many degrees of separation we were from knowing them directly (and I know some who adored them in person, but plenty of others who felt sustained by their work in so many different aspects), they brought a special kind of light into our world. It would be impossible to quantify how much joy these two women between them have given others.

B&W photo of a toddler girl on a stool watching a woman on stage in the distance.

Photo by Lawrence Schiller (1963) of Carrie Fisher watching Debbie Reynolds perform

Instead of doing my own inadequate round-up of commentary on Carrie in her role as General Leia in the Star Wars verse, I suggest heading over to The Mary Sue to browse through their terrific series of articles. Most people posting early footage of Debbie have chosen Good Morning from Singing in the Rain, which I freely admit is irresistible, but we must remember what a long-term, all-round star of the golden age she was, so I have put something more obscure but no less joyful below. Though people think of them both first as actresses, they also gave us a model of the possibility of a textured, mercurial yet utterly solid relationship between mother and daughter (plenty of re-watchings of Postcards From the Edge going on around the place this weekend), and Carrie was an absolute lion in the crusade to make it acceptable and understandable to live a rich life while negotiating mental illness.

Head and shoulders of Reynolds and Fisher taken about ten years ago.

Without wishing to attach Carrie too much to her fictional alter ego, I found this obituary for Leia Organa by Malcolm Sheppard to be a masterful, whimsical, real way to think about her role in the Star Wars story.

Here is a Q&A Debbie did in 2010.

And here is a dance routine she did with Bob Fosse in a movie called Give a Girl a Break.

Here are the Guardian‘s obituaries of Carrie and Debbie. Of course there has been an outpouring of personal reflective writing on their lives, careers, and what they have meant to people. I would be delighted if you would share in the comments any pieces that have meant something to you.

Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism, media

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1 reply

  1. RPGNet suggested three ways to honour Carrie Fisher: 1, Normalise the mentally ill; 2, Don’t take life as seriously; 3, Overthrow a fascist regime.

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