Painful Truth: More than a princess to this Langley reporter

Advance reporter Matthew Claxton finds the death of an actress has more impact on him than he expected.

The end of the year has put me in a melancholy mood.

Carrie Fisher died on Dec. 27. It’s been observed, by many people, that 2016 seemed intent on picking off as many beloved celebrities as possible, from David Bowie to Prince to Mohammed Ali to Alan Rickman to Gene Wilder.

Each of those will hit hard for some, but Carrie Fisher’s death affected me more than I’d expected. She was one of the first celebrities I could have recognized at a glance who wasn’t a Muppet or cartoon character.

I don’t remember when I first saw Star Wars. I was maybe eight years old? I remember I was allowed to stay up late to finish watching it. We sat glued to the screen of our old TV set, the one that required pliers to change the channel.

Everything about that movie, even sliced up between commercials, was amazing. Jedi! Light sabre battles! X-wing fighters! Darth Vader! Droids! Desert planets!

And in the middle of it, there was a princess/diplomat/senator/rebel/spy who withstood torture, then grabbed a blaster and organized her befuddled rescuers. She shot up the Stormtroopers, got off the Death Star, and then organized the attack that blew it to bits.

Some people grow up thinking that only boys can be action heroes. I don’t know how anyone who grew up watching Star Wars could have that problem.

In her real life, Carrie Fisher was a sort of princess, and a sort of rebel, and her own kind of hero.

Daughter of Hollywood royalty, she hit stardom and then fought demons of drug abuse and mental illness.

More important than her struggles was the way she shared them with the world, both in her fiction and non-fiction, in interviews and individual encounters with fans through the years.

She was a recovering addict, a person who lived with mental illness. And she did more than simply live. She was a sought-after writer, script doctor, actor, and wit.

She inspired other people to conquer the same demons she had herself faced.

In the last few years, she seems to have become the cool aunt for geeks everywhere, the one who’s been around and seen some tough times, but can laugh about it and warn you away from the worst of the minefields.

She fought the Empire, and punched up George Lucas’s dialogue, and I’ll always remember her for both.

Read Bob Groeneveld’s Odd Thoughts at

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