To several generations of science fiction and movie fans she will be known simply as Princess Leia.
Whatever else Carrie Fisher did and achieved in her life, whatever battles she confronted with drug addiction, it will be her role as the Star Wars heroine for which she will be most remembered, and certainly most loved.
On Tuesday, came the news that the actress had died, four days after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. She was 60.
“It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8.55 this morning,” said a statement from family spokesman Simon Halls.
“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”
Director George Lucas said that he and Fisher had been "friends most of our adult lives". "She was extremely smart; a talented actress, writer and comedienne with a very colourful personality that everyone loved," he said in a statement. "In Star Wars she was our great and powerful princess - feisty, wise and full of hope in a role that was more difficult than most people might think."
Fisher suffered a heart attack shortly before her flight landed in Los Angeles last Friday and received emergency treatment on the plane before she was rushed to hospital upon landing.
Her brother, Todd Fisher, said the actress was in a critical condition when she arrived at the hospital, where she remained under medical treatment in the intensive care unit.
“It's not fair to say ‘stable’. I am not saying she is fine, or not fine,” he told Reuters. “She is in the ICU.”
Over the weekend it appeared her condition remained unchanged. Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, said on Sunday on Twitter: “Carrie is in stable condition. If there is a change, we will share it. For all her fans and friends, I thank you for your prayers and good wishes.”
As news spread of the incident, prayers and get well messages poured in from around the world. And on Tuesday, as it was revealed that Fisher had succumbed, similar sentiments flooded from Star Wars fans and others.
The daughter of a Hollywood power couple, movie star Reynolds and entertainer Eddie Fisher, she achieved her own fame portraying Princess Leia in the cinematic space saga that began its long and iconic journey in 1977.
Even as she fought for her life in hospital, many fans went to a Christmas Day screening of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, in which a digital replica of the young Princess Leia appears on screen at the end.
“It’s kind of surreal that this movie is coming out now and to think of Carrie Fisher/Princess Leia having a heart attack, it’s pretty terrifying,” Mike Rosenberg, 28, said at a Times Square cinema. “It’s Christmas Day. I'm sure everyone has her in their heart today.”
As news of her death spread, fans and co-stars offered their condolences, and paid tribute to the actress, who was once briefly married to Paul Simon.
Her co-star Mark Hamill wrote on Twitter simply: “no words #Devastated.” While Harrison Ford said in a statement: “Carrie was one of a kind... brilliant, original. Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely.”
Actor Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the films, wrote: “There are no words for this loss. Carrie was the brightest light in every room she entered. I will miss her dearly.”
Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in the franchise, said: “I'm deeply saddened at the news of Carrie's passing. She was a dear friend, whom I greatly respected and admired. The force is dark today!”
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies