Star Wars actor Carrie Fisher dies

Carrie Fisher, the actor, writer and daughter of Hollywood royalty who became internationally famous as Princess Leia of Star Wars, has died, aged 60.

A statement released on behalf of her daughter Billie Lourd says: "It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8:55 this morning.

"She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers."

Fisher died on Tuesday morning after suffering what was described as a massive heart attack on December 23 while on a flight from London to Los Angeles.

"Thank you to everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter," her mother Debbie Reynolds said.

"I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop. Love Carries Mother."

Tributes are pouring in online from fellow actors and fans. Mark Hamill, the actor who played Star Wars hero Luke Skywalker, wrote on Twitter: "No words #Devastated".

Harrison Ford, who played Princess Leia's lover Han Solo, has paid tribute to Fisher as a "one-of-a-kind" person and an "original".

"Funny and emotionally fearless. She lived her life, bravely," he said in a statement to E! News.

Ford said his thoughts are with her daughter Billie Lourd, her mother Debbie Reynolds, her brother Todd Fisher and "her many friends. We will all miss her."

A post from the Twitter account of Fisher's dog Gary, who has become an internet celebrity himself, said: "I'll still be waiting for you." It followed a post on Christmas Eve when Fisher was in hospital, saying: "I'll be waiting right here mommy."

The words were accompanied by the forlorn-looking dog gazing out a window.

"Carrie holds such special place in the hearts of everyone at Lucasfilm it is difficult to think of a world without her," spokesperson Kathleen Kennedy said.

"She was Princess Leia to the world but a very special friend to all of us. She had an indomitable spirit, incredible wit, and a loving heart.

"Carrie also defined the female hero of our age over a generation ago. Her groundbreaking role as Princess Leia served as an inspiration of power and confidence for young girls everywhere. We will miss her dearly.”

In her 2008 autobiography, Wishful Drinking, Fisher said: "I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra.”

The comment came out of a discussion with Star Wars creator George Lucas when he told her she couldn't wear a bra under her Princess Leia costume because "there's no underwear in space".

"So, what happens is you go to space and you become weightless," Fisher wrote.

"But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn't - so you get strangled by your own bra."

Carrie Fisher Harrison Ford Star Wars Force Awakens
Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (Supplied)

Daughter of Hollywood royalty

Fisher was the daughter of actor Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, whose marriage famously broke up when Eddie Fisher had an affair with Elizabeth Taylor.

She often remarked that she was born in the spotlight, and her life and career reflected the highs and lows of the entertainment business. Her mother's career struggles after her 1950s heyday weighed heavily on Fisher.

"I grew up on the back side of show business. So I had no desire to go into it. It had beat up my mother," Fisher told the New York Times in 2006.

"I had a front-and-centre view of how that hurt her. I understood that when they were done with you, they were done."

Fisher demonstrated her skill as a writer with the best-selling 1987 novel Postcards From the Edge, about an actor struggling to rebuild her career after an overdose.

Fisher wrote the screenplay for the 1990 film adaptation, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.

She had recently been promoting her newly published memoir of her Star Wars years, The Princess Diarist.

In her writing and in public, Fisher was revealing about her battles with drugs and mental health issues. Her outspokenness about addiction earned her a lifetime achievement award from Harvard College in 2016 for cultural humanitarianism.

After her parents divorced when she was two, Fisher was estranged from her father for decades until she became his caretaker prior to his death in 2010.

Fisher got her start in the family business at age 15, when she appeared alongside Reynolds in the 1973 Broadway revival of Irene.

But it was 1977's Star Wars, later re-titled Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope that brought Fisher international recognition.

Cloaked in white with her hair parted and tucked into two spiral side twists, the now-legendary character Princess Leia first appeared in the film as the fearless leader of the planet Alderaan, agent of the Rebel Alliance and member of the Imperial Senate.

The film earned six Oscars and launched a franchise of epic proportions. Two sequels followed A New Hope -- The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Return of the Jedi in 1983 -- to form what is now known as the original trilogy.

Fisher's personal life was also tumultuous. She began dating musician Paul Simon in 1977 and married him in 1983, but the union lasted less than a year.

Fisher had one child, daughter Billie Catherine Lourd in 1992, with CAA managing partner Bryan Lourd. Fisher's relationship with Lourd ended in 1994 and, although they were never married, Fisher frequently referred to Lourd in interviews as her second husband. She was candid in her writing and elsewhere about the emotional experience of having Lourd leave her for a man.

Reuters / Newshub.