Carrie Fisher has passed away – a tribute to the Princess I was lucky enough to know a bit

Carrie Fisher has passed away – a tribute to the Princess I was lucky enough to know a bit


When I heard about her in-flight issues last week, I feared the worst, and today the news has come out that Carrie Fisher passed away. I’m sure there will be a lot of anger and confusion among fans over what’s really happened and why. We’ve heard respiratory failure, heart attack, CPR was administered… it’s just hard to accept she’s gone. My phone and email has been flooded since the news broke today, as many people who know me well know I worked closely with Carrie on several occasions, thanks to my buddy Ben Stevens and the conventions we had her at through the years. Today I recall some fun memories of the actress I had the pleasure of getting to know.

I first met Carrie in 2002 at Star Wars Celebration II in Indianapolis, IN. Ben Stevens of Official Pix (then See Two Ventures) and I were starting to work together on convention stuff, and I was brought in to be staff at that show – Ben and Philip Wise arranged for all of the signing guests to attend there, and produced the official photos for the event. Ben put me with Carrie, which was a big deal as this was our first time to work with her. So for the entire weekend, I was her security guy, her handler, and her guide. I made sure she was comfortable and things were under control during her signing, and when we walked (anywhere) I was arm in arm with her. Carrie was a welcoming and loving presence, the kind of person who hugs strangers and says what’s on her mind. I watched as she made every single fan in line smile, told stories and made jokes, and wrote things on photos you wouldn’t believe. Carrie always had a Diet Coke on the table at that time, and at one point the worst possible thing happened… I knocked it over, totally by accident, but it FILLED the table and went everywhere. I was devastated. Here I was trying to make a good impression, and then that had to happen. Did Miss Fisher get mad or storm off? No, she was as cool as could be about it, and she knew I was embarrassed. After we cleaned it up, she continued signing and leaned over to me a few times to whisper “It’s okay, don’t worry about it.” She could sense my tension and made sure I felt okay about the messy accident. When we finished up the first day, Carrie said she wanted to go antique shopping… and that I had to go with her. So we hopped in a car, just the two of us, and found a few antique stores nearby. I thought it was funny that just a few miles away, the biggest Star Wars convention in the world was going on, and here I was antique shopping with Princess Leia. At one point Carrie was buying some goodies, and when she gave the woman behind the counter her credit card, the clerk (not realizing who this was) said “Oh you know what? There’s a famous actress named Carrie Fisher!” Carrie replied “Yeah, I hear that a lot.” A little later I called my mom and said “You’re not going to believe what I’m doing… I’m antique shopping with Carrie Fisher.” And my mom, who rarely cusses, said “You’re full of shit!” Some other moments from that show include me escorting Carrie arm in arm through the long front hall surrounded by Stormtroopers. I saw thousands of camera flashes when that happened, but I’ve yet to see a single photo from it. I kept expecting to see tabloids with our photo and the caption “Who is that guy with Carrie Fisher?!” Later that same year we had Carrie for the first time in Dallas for our very first Dallas Comic Con, and she was (of course) a treat. At one point I walked her around the show to see some of the other guests, and we stopped so I could introduce her to the late and great Dave Stevens (creator of The Rocketeer). Dave mentioned to Carrie they had a mutual friend in Joe Dante, and they shared some fun stories. It was great to be a fly on the wall for that moment. Carrie also marveled at the artwork of Joseph Michael Linsner, who was another special guest at the show, saying his women were “Breathtaking.”


Someone sent me this photo from Star Wars Celebration V – not sure who owns it, hope they don’t mind me posting it.

A few years later Ben and I had Carrie as a guest in New York for Mike Carbonarro’s Big Apple Comic Con. We sat on the other side of the curtain from my buddy and comic book cover artist extraordinaire Adam Hughes, who was there with his wife Allison Sohn. We had to walk behind their table every time Carrie needed a break, so she got to see his artwork. And as only Carrie could do, she complimented him saying “You do great tits.” Adam ended up doing a rather hilarious drawing for Carrie which she LOVED. One thing I got to witness at that show was something I found fascinating. Carrie was a highly respected script doctor and had helped on some pretty major Hollywood films. Periodically she’d get a phone call, and I’d hear things like “No, change that, make it something less confrontational” or “Have it sound more romantic and awkward”, even speaking out lines of dialogue she was coming up with on the spot. I realized she was script doctoring over the phone – this was normal for her, she was that good at it. And I gotta say, some of the stuff she came up with on the fly was pretty astounding. After a long weekend of signing she wanted to go shopping, so we walked outside to the busy New York street and she whipped around and said “I want to go to Soho”, then grabbed my hand and screamed “Let’s go to Soho!” I replied “Okay, sure.” She yelled “Yes!!” Then she ran out into the street right in front of a cab and yelled “CAB!!!” The cabbie’s tires screeched to a halt, just shy of mowing her down – it was like a scene out of a movie. We hopped in the cab and headed to Soho, and there in the backseat was the first moment where Carrie opened up to me on a deeply personal level. We started talking about really serious things… family, her ex, her daughter, stuff that was really meaningful for her. I felt like I was finally getting to know this woman, and it was fascinating. When we hit the shops in Soho, she started buying a LOT of stuff, but not for herself. Carrie bought things for her gardener, or her maid, or her friends, she just wanted to get gifts for other people, and they were nice gifts too! She even bought me a watch, which I still have to this day and absolutely cherish. The next day we did more shopping, and ended the day with me taking her in a cab to see Meryl Streep, who was performing a play there – Carrie and Meryl were friends and they were going to meet afterward. Now, I wasn’t invited to go to the play and didn’t want to assume I could, but in hindsight I probably easily could have asked, and knowing Carrie I bet she would have said “Of course!” It was funny because we got in the cab to head that way, and Carrie realized she had no cash on her, so I gave her $20. She didn’t want to take my money, and actually called her assistant Kim telling her she HAD to come meet me right then to pay me back. That’s the kind of person Carrie was. That New York trip was also where I got the following photo, which is a personal favorite…


If I only ever got one photo with Carrie, this could have been it and I’d be happy.

Some of the other memories I have involve her at our first Dallas Comic Con at the Irving Convention Center in 2011, which was supposed to be the weekend of “The Rapture” – remember that? Carrie joked about how the date for The Rapture just happened to be on her birthday. A few years later The Princess got a cherished companion that would become a fun addition to any appearance she did. Gary (who we immediately dubbed “Gary Fisher”) was Carrie’s French Bulldog, a therapy dog that put her in a constantly good mood. With his tongue always hanging out and inquisitive expression, Gary wasn’t just a fun little guy that followed her around, he made her feel great and happy, and she even had him pose in photos with her at shows, or accompany her on stage when she did panels. One thing that’s interesting to note about Carrie was how she wanted to interact with fans. We used to have to constantly try to speed her up, as she had so many people in line wanting to meet her, but she was so chatty it took a long time to move those folks through. At one point Carrie said to us “I would rather raise the price a little if it means I can take more time talking to these people.” So yes, her autograph wasn’t cheap, but she made sure you got your money’s worth. Meeting Carrie was an experience, especially during her “glitter” phases, where she would shower you with glitter as a sign of affection. One of the things I loved most about Carrie was how she embraced her crazy side, how she owned her addictions and embarrassing moments, and how she showed the world that you don’t have to hide who you are. Multiple books (which are GREAT) covered her various wild experiences as she aged, and she frequently spoke openly about being who she was, never once holding back even the tiniest details. You don’t see many celebs that will do that.


The photo above is one of many I have of me with Carrie Fisher, but I chose to feature it here because it’s the most recent. My last interaction with her was in the summer of 2015, when the hype for the new STAR WARS was at a fever pitch. I wanted very badly to moderate her Q&A, especially since Carrie rarely does Q&A sessions outside of something like Star Wars Celebration, but her assistant at the time (he had since been replaced) shuffed it off and said she didn’t need a moderator… I think she really did, if only because doing these events can be exhausting, and the 9000-seat panel room was pretty full, plus she was coming in late from the airport and traffic was a nightmare – I was the one going on stage to vamp while we waited for her to arrive. So in the end I settled for introducing her to the enthusiastic crowd. Carrie then took over by herself on stage… well, not completely by herself, as her dog Gary was by her side the whole time. This wasn’t so much of a traditional Q&A as it was Miss Fisher just talking and sharing thoughts with the audience. No juicy STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS tidbits here, just Carrie being Carrie for an hour. Check out the full video below, which runs about about an hour. This was posted by yodasama who has this and other great videos on YouTube. I love you Carrie, and I’ll miss you dearly. I’m so very glad I got to spend so much time around you. My thoughts are with your family in this difficult time. Rest in peace, my dear Princess.

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About the Author

Born and raised in Dallas, Mark has been a movie critic since 1994, with reviews featured in print, radio and National TV. In 2001 he started the Entertainment section of the Herorealm website, where he contributed film reviews and celebrity interviews until 2004. After three years of service there, he started, which has become one of the Dallas film community's leading information websites. Bigfanboy hosts several movie screenings in the Texas area, and works closely with film and TV studios and promotional partners to host exciting events and contests. The site also features a variety of rare celebrity and filmmaker interviews, and regularly covers the film festival circuit as well. In addition to Hollywood reporting, Mark has worked for many years as an advertising and sci-fi/comic book artist. Clients have included Lucasfilm Ltd., Topps Trading Cards, The Dallas Mavericks and The Dallas Stars. From 2002 until 2015 he managed the Dallas Comic Con, Sci-Fi Expo and Fan Days events in the DFW area. He currently catalogs rare comic books and movie memorabilia for Heritage Auctions, and runs the Dallas Comic Show conventions, but remains an avid moviegoer and cinema buff.