Originally Published: January 2, 2017 4:30 a.m.
Princess Leia, why did you have to leave us? You, the one woman who would not only stand up to evil but sought out Darth Vader in order to destroy the Death Star, left an indelible impression on millions of us. Gone too soon!
Remember the late 1970s? Forty years is a long time, but who can forget that thrill of watching Star Wars for the first time? There had never seen a “princess” like Leia before. No damsel in distress, no Disney beauty waiting to get rescued by a dashing prince, this was a young woman dressed like a nun in a pure white gown, ready for action. She was fierce. Okay, so one time she did end up in that gold metal bikini slave ensemble – but she got revenge by killing Jabba the Hutt for it.
Leia’s hair-do was so other-worldly that we all became enthralled the first time we laid eyes on her. Those crazy buns! That this very young and small woman would strike out at the terrifying Dark Forces and the villain to top all villains, Darth Vader, was especially shocking. I mean, wasn’t it Princess Leia who even had to set Han Solo straight?
We watched Princess Leia lecture Han Solo in the first Star Wars movies that, “We cannot hide from evil. It is useless. We must face this Darkness and fight. It is the only way.” Come on Han, listen up! Yep, this was no weak woman. Leia was one tough lady who was going to fight the Evil Empire to save the Galaxy from the devil himself. She understood that evil does not “disappear” but only grows and festers. In one memorable scene she even tried to shame Darth Vader into feeling guilty for his criminal actions. She stood up to a monster!
Princess Leia dolls came out for little girls to emulate a true warrior. This was a doll that represented the best, last hope of an entire Galaxy. For young girls on this planet, Princess Leia changed the way they thought about being female. This was a girl who knew how to shoot, run, think and out-smart Darth Vader. And she was dressed like an angel with white, flowing gown, or for combat in an insulated jumpsuit, always wearing flat, sturdy boots for running. Hey Barbie, move over, because suddenly little girls had a new doll in town. Not one with high heels, blond hair, a figure like a Playboy bunny and bright red lips. Girls had a new role model.
Whatever Carrie Fisher brought to her character, Princess Leia, could she have learned from her mother, Debbie Reynolds? Imagine being a relative unknown and at age 18 landing the plum role of playing the lead in Gene Kelly’s 1952 classic musical, “Singin’ in the Rain.” Reynolds had never even danced before! Watch the movie and be amazed. Gene Kelly was a task master and one of the best dancers in the world. One day a nice fellow named Fred Astaire was stopping by the movie set only to find Debbie Reynolds alone in a room crying under the piano. Her feet were blistered and bloodied. Astaire gave the young woman encouragement and dancing tips. She went on to dazzle in “Singin’ in the Rain,” which is considered one of the greatest musicals of all time. A star was born.
Debbie Reynolds came from a poor family and had a work ethic almost unmatched in Hollywood. She sang, acted, danced and entertained us for six decades. Her daughter, Carrie Fisher, pretty much followed suit by acting, writing and working until the day she died. These women knew about set-backs, adversity, divorce, heartache, disappointment, illness and loss.
The moral of the story? Just because your feet are bloodied and blistered doesn’t mean you can’t keep dancing.
Two icons. Debbie Reynolds. Carrie Fisher. They slipped the surly bonds of earth within one day of each other ... to a galaxy far, far away. And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings. We will miss you, ladies. And may the Force be with you.
Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local Realtor. Have a story or a comment? Email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.