VANITY FAIR – Her father, Eddie Fisher, left her mother, Debbie Reynolds, for Elizabeth Taylor—and that was only the beginning.
Carrie Fisher, who died Tuesday, had a complex relationship with Hollywood, which she hilariously described in her autographical books, one-woman show, and interviews over her four-decade career. While it can be grotesque to watch celebrities publicly lamenting their life’s hand, Fisher used her wit, talent, and experiences to entertain audiences everywhere from movie screens to Twitter streams. And in a 2009 interview, Fisher told Vanity Fair how sharing her stories—which had an atypical, wry perspective on Hollywood’s usual trappings: stars, addictions, and broken marriages—played a large role in her mental health.
“The fact that I can make somebody laugh at this stuff—it can be very cathartic,” Fisher said of opening her life up for public consumption. “If you claim something, you can own it. But if you have it as a shameful secret, you’re fucked; you’re sitting in a room populated by elephants. I have a lot of elephants to kill. But I also have a lot to be grateful for. Most of my problems are high-class. As Mike Nichols used to say, ‘The champagne is flat and the caviar has run out—will it never end?’”
Fisher’s life began with the same flash-bulb crack that would accompany her to her untimely end. The first child of pop singer Eddie Fisher and Singin’ in the Rain star Debbie Reynolds (who died one day after Fisher did), Fisher later joked that she—a cynical Hollywood misfit plagued by addiction and bipolar disorder—was “truly a product of Hollywood in-breeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result.” In her autobiography, Fisher described what it was like entering the world as the offspring of two of the world’s biggest stars:
When I was born, my mother was given an anesthetic because they didn’t have epidurals in those days. Consequently, she was unconscious.
Now, my mother is a beautiful woman—she’s beautiful today in her 70s, so at 24 she looked like a Christmas morning. All the doctors [in the delivery room] were buzzing round her pretty head, saying: ‘Oh, look at Debbie Reynolds asleep—how pretty.’
And my father, upon seeing me start to arrive, fainted. So all the nurses ran over saying: ‘Oh look, there’s Eddie Fisher, the crooner, on the ground. Let’s go look at him.’
So when I arrived I was virtually unattended. And I have been trying to make up for that fact ever since.
This is an older article but I thought it was so good I wanted to post it on the site.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
By ELIZABETH JOHNSON
Actor, writer and mental health advocate Carrie Fisher (“Star Wars,” “Family Guy,” “When Harry Met Sally”) was in Sarasota Saturday for “An Afternoon with Carrie Fisher” for the Mental Health Community Centers. The event was sponsored by the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation and underwritten by The Isermann Family Foundation. Fisher, who has bipolar disorder, met with Herald-Tribune Staff Writer Elizabeth Johnson to discuss mental illness, drug addiction and “Star Wars.”
Q: What was your life like before you were diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 29?
A: I was a very drug-interested person, so it was sort of chaotic, but not entirely. I actually was diagnosed — they tried to diagnose me at 24 — and I just got mad because I thought the shrink didn’t want to treat me, so he just told me I had this thing. Anyway, you cannot diagnose someone who is actively doing drugs or alcohol. Because if you’re doing drugs or alcohol in an abusive way, you’re going to seem bipolar.
Q: What was it like to be diagnosed?
A: It was after I was a year sober. I was not going to go. I got sober and then I came in with a bunch of people so we all hung out. They calmed down, and I went in the other direction. When I got sober, I thought, “Well, that’s it. I’m an alcoholic or an addict, so that’s what’s wrong with me. I don’t need therapy.” A year later, when I was going to have to turn myself into the brain police, I was not happy.
Carrie Fisher with her therapy dog, Gary.
Q: What drugs were you using before that diagnosis?