But, the ones that touched me the most were that of Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds a day later. To lose our princess and rebel was sad enough. But to lose her mother so soon afterward was heartbreaking. The upcoming Bright Lights details their bond that was so strong not even death could break it.
When I was a freshman in high school one of our first writing assignments in English class was to write a fan letter. Prior to this I had never written one or even considered it. Being the Star Wars fan/classic movie fan that I was I went with Carrie Fisher. I knew of her career beyond Star Wars and had read Postcards from the Edge.
By the time summer rolled around I had more or less forgotten about the letter. Then, one day I received a rigid envelope in the mail:
There was no note but that didn't matter. It was an actual signed photograph - no printed card. We had kept track of which celebrities sent replies to our letters in class. I knew very few had received anything. So, to get this photo in the mail meant a lot to me.
Flash forward 15 years or so. Wishful Drinking opens on Broadway at Studio 54. I had a second row center ticket to one of the first shows after opening night. Apparently, I had missed her mother by about a day.
The show was great and I hope everyone gets the chance to see the HBO special. There were things I had already known about (Debbie Reynolds being pregnant with Carrie during filming of Bundle of Joy) and things I didn't know (Reynolds was also pregnant with Carrie during Tammy and the Bachelor).
Afterward I made my way to the stage door. Meeting someone I had admired for so long was an exciting moment for me. There was a decent sized crowd at the stage door but it dwindled the longer we waited. People left in anger. I'll never understand that. Being a little disappointed is okay but to be angry seems a bit overboard. Carrie didn't owe any of us more than a great show. And we got that.
Finally, the reason for her tardiness was discovered. She had a guest. The doors opened and out came Dustin Hoffman. Some people tried to get him to stop. Others ignored him as if he weren't a two-time Oscar winner. I did neither. As he passed me I said, "Hi". He stopped, looked at me, and said "Hi". Then he was gone. Not the most exciting Dustin Hoffman story but it's certainly better than having none at all.
Shortly after Dustin left the guard informed us Carrie would not be posing for pictures nor signing anything other than Wishful Drinking items. Which was understandable. The number of people looking to make a buck off her signature must be astronomical.
She finally emerged and started signing and kvetching. Carrie being Carrie. When she got to me we chatted a little about the show and I let her know I had enjoyed it. Then, it went a little something like this:
"You were my first fan letter."
"Did you get anything back?"
"Yes, a signed photo."
"Oh, my mother handled it back then."
So, it was her mother who made sure I got my signed picture. Another actress I had grown up admiring. The knowledge added a little something extra special to the signed picture I had received in high school. A picture I will always cherish. More so now.
If someone you know is mourning one of these celebrities don't mock them. Don't roll your eyes. We're all fighting invisible battles. If something one of these people said/did/wrote helped them during a dark hour that is to be honored. Not maligned.