From sassy princess to work colleague, the Carrie Fisher I knew

Appreciation: Her no-nonsense attitude and rebound from life's obstacles made Carrie Fisher so much more than just an onscreen idol to CNET writer and former Lucasfilm employee Bonnie Burton.

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Bonnie Burton profile photo
Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
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Princess Leia
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Princess Leia

Carrie Fisher was a talented actress, script doctor, feminist, author and Star Wars icon.


When I first saw Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in 1977's "Star Wars: A New Hope," she was fresh-faced and full of confidence and witty comebacks for the roguish rake Han Solo.

She didn't suffer fools gladly and she often battled Stormtroopers better than the fellas. She killed Jabba the Hutt with a chain, for crying out loud.

She was the perfect geek girl role model because she was no damsel in distress. Inspired by her, I wore my hair in Princess Leia buns in elementary school yearbook photos.

But Fisher, who died Tuesday at 60 after suffering a heart attack last week, impacted my life in much bigger ways than my childhood hairdo. And she was so much more than just a Star Wars icon.

She battled her own personal demons with courage and honesty. She gained strength and insight from her battles with drug and alcohol addiction and bipolar disorder and wrote about these struggles with wit in her memoirs and semi-autobiographical novels -- "Postcards from the Edge," "Wishful Drinking" and most recently, "The Princess Diarist."

I finally sought therapy to deal with depression after reading about her own mental health struggles. Her memoirs inspired me to write more personal essays.

In addition to her popular books, Fisher had a successful career as a script doctor during the '90s, working on such films as "Hook," "Sister Act," "Lethal Weapon 3" and "The Wedding Singer."

Since script doctors are rarely, if ever, credited on the films they save, many fans don't even realize the impact Fisher had on their favorite movies that don't involve lightsaber battles. Even Entertainment Weekly referred to Fisher as "one of the most sought after doctors in town."

I took screenwriting classes because I wanted to learn skills that Fisher had clearly put to good use as a script doctor.

Of course, Fisher is best known as Princess Leia from the Star Wars films, but she her acting went way beyond a galaxy far, far away. She made her mark acting in some stellar comedies including "Shampoo," "The Blues Brothers," "The Man with One Red Shoe," "Hannah and Her Sisters," "The 'Burbs" and "When Harry Met Sally."

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Carrie Fisher tweets a photo of her dog Gary relaxing in her chair at the "Star Wars: Episode VIII" set.

​Carrie Fisher/Twitter

Fisher also appeared on numerous popular TV series including "Sex in the City," "The Big Bang Theory," "Entourage," "Family Guy," "Robot Chicken," "30 Rock," "Weeds," "Smallville" and "Frasier," to name a few.

When I worked at Lucasfilm as a senior editor for the website StarWars.com, I was always honored when my path intersected with Fisher. Sometimes I'd be asked to walk her to panels at San Diego Comic-Con, or just make sure fans didn't get too unruly waiting in line for her autograph.

One of my favorite memories of Fisher is the time a twenty-something hipster came up to her at one of her Comic-Con signings and demanded she write something unique and personal on a photo of Fisher dressed in her iconic Slave Leia metal bikini. She winked and wrote, "Bite me."

She always had a funny quip or story and was thrilled when fans would lavish her beloved dog Gary -- who she took with her everywhere -- with love and affection.

Fisher didn't just pave the way for more beloved female Star Wars characters like Rey ("The Force Awakens") and Jyn Erso ("Rogue One") to inspire a new generation of fans, she also made me proud to be a geek girl who spoke her mind and went after her dreams no matter what challenges life threw my way. And for that I will always be grateful.

She will be missed, but her Force will be strong in my memory, always.