Like most of the world, I'm still shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Carrie Fisher followed by her mother, Debbie Reynolds, a day later. I happened to be listening to Fisher's last book, The Princess Diarist, the day she died. Read by Fisher herself for the audio version, the experience felt deeply personal, as if Fisher were whispering her life story to me through my earbuds. While everyone knows the book is mostly about her affair with Harrison Ford, she revealed other intimate and surprising tidbits.
Fisher was only 19 when she was hired to play Princess Leia. Surprisingly, the producers told her to take 10 pounds off her already petite frame before filming started. "I only weighed 110 pounds to begin with, but I carried about half of them in my face. I think they put those buns on me so they might function as bookends keeping my face right where it was – between my ears and no bigger," said Fisher.
To lose the weight, her mother sent her to a "fat farm" in Texas, where she met Ann Landers and Ladybird Johnson. Fisher's stay only lasted a week, however, because she couldn't take the pressure and realized she was already thin enough. She said she was terrified while shooting Star Wars that the producers would discover she failed to lose the weight.
Maybe it's because of all the bra burning in the 1970s, but in both Shampoo and Star Wars, the directors didn't want her to wear a bra. Shampoo's director and star, Warren Beatty, was asked by the costume department if Fisher should wear a bra. "Warren squinted in the general direction of my breasts. 'Is she wearing one now?' I stood there as if my breasts and I were somewhere else." He asked to see Fisher in her tennis outfit without her bra. Well, you can tell from the photo above that Beatty liked her better without it.
Fisher showed up on the Star Wars set in Princess Leia's white gown wearing a bra and panties underneath. But in the book, she said director George Lucas made her ditch the undies because "There's no underwear in space." Later, Lucas explained to Fisher that because your body expands in space due to the lack of gravity, your bra might actually strangle you. I'm still trying to work out the logistics of that.
When Fisher arrived in London to make Star Wars, the movie's hair stylist, an Irish woman named Patricia McDermott, showed her some hairstyle sketches. Many of them were inspired by different cultures around the world, including "Russian princesses to Swedish maids… Eventually we arrived at the hairy earphone configuration." This particular hairstyle was inspired by the Soldaderas or Adelitas, the women who fought in the Mexican Revolution from 1910 to 1920. Seems perfect for a feisty space princess.
Every teen boy from 1977 onward has the image of Princess Leia in that metal bikini scorched into his brain. And most of them have used the picture as fodder for pleasuring themselves and are apparently not shy about telling Fisher about it. "If I had known about all the masturbating I would generate! When men approach me to let me know I was their first love, I have mixed feelings. Why did all these men find it so easy to be in love with me then and so complex to be in love with me now?"
Fisher was just a tot when her father, Eddie Fisher, left her mother, Debbie Reynolds, for Elizabeth Taylor. Obviously, this was devastating for Fisher and her brother, Todd. But growing up, Fisher said she blamed herself for her father leaving. This experience made her never want to mess around with a married man. Then she met Harrison Ford. She claims she was terribly conflicted about having the affair with him, knowing he was the father of two, but at 19 on location in England for three long months, she succumbed to his good looks and taciturn personality. It's kind of hard to blame her.
Ah, Carrie Fisher. We miss you. May the force of others be with you.
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