Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wishful Drinking, by Carrie Fisher

Carrie Fisher, a casual friend (we’ve swapped emails but she probably wouldn’t remember) has just written her autobiography. It’s great! Jesus, the hell she’s been through. But she tells her life story with such wit and perspective that you find yourself spellbound. And for any star struck kid who ever dreamed of growing up in the glamour and excitement of Hollywood this book should knock that shit out quick.

Here are just a couple of brief excerpts to give you a taste.

When I was born, my mother was given an anaesthetic because they didn't have epidurals in those days. Consequently, she was unconscious.

Now, my mother is a beautiful woman - she's beautiful today in her 70s, so at 24 she looked like a Christmas morning. All the doctors were buzzing round her pretty head, saying: 'Oh, look at Debbie Reynolds asleep - how pretty.'

And my father, upon seeing me start to arrive, fainted. So all the nurses ran over saying: 'Oh look, there's Eddie Fisher, the crooner, on the ground. Let's go look at him.'

So when I arrived I was virtually unattended. And I have been trying to make up for that fact ever since.

*******

Mom and Dad were great friends with Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Mike Todd. Mike died in a plane crash in 1958, when I was two, and my dad flew to Elizabeth's side, making his way slowly to her front.

*******

He later wrote his autobiography, Been There, Done That - well, he called it an autobiography, but I thought of it more as a novel. I like to call it Been There, Done Them, because it really was just about the women he'd slept with and how the sex was and what their bodies were like (so it is a feelgood read).

*******

There was also my mother's closet - which I always thought of as the Church Of Latter-Day Debbie because it was the magical place that she entered as my mom and emerged as Debbie Reynolds.

********

At a certain point in my early 20s, my mother started to worry about my obviously ever-increasing drug ingestion. So she ended up doing what any concerned parent would do. She called Cary Grant.

********

Some years later, I was in London en route to my mother's wedding to Richard Hamlett, her third husband (I don't like to miss any of my parents' weddings). She called me at my hotel, and when I didn't answer she became concerned.

So she let the phone ring and ring - until finally she panicked. She knew I was in the room so, in her mind, probably the only reason I wasn't answering the phone was that I had overdosed.

So she did what any normal concerned mother might do when troubled about her daughter's well-being. She called Ava Gardner. And she asked Ava to make sure I was not dead.

*********

I live next door to my mom now. She is still a little eccentric.

Whenever she calls she says: 'Hello, dear, this is your mother, Debbie.' (As opposed to my mother Vladimir or Jean-Jacques.) My brother and I talk this way to each other now: 'Hello dear, this is your brother, Todd.'

Another example of her eccentricity: she suggested several times that I should have a child with her last husband, Richard, because 'it would have nice eyes'. It hadn't occurred to her this might be odd. I think she just thought, you know, my womb was free and we're family.

*********

When I spoke about my mental illness publicly, I won great acclaim. I waited my entire life to get an award for something, anything (OK, fine, not acting, but what about a tiny little award for writing? Nope), I now get awards for being mentally ill.

***********

Remember the white dress I wore all through that film (STAR WARS)? George (Lucas) came up to me the first day of filming, took one look at the dress and said: 'You can't wear a bra under that dress.'

'OK, I'll bite,' I said. 'Why?' And he said: 'Because ... there's no underwear in space.'

**********

Among George's many possessions, he owns my likeness, so that every time I look in the mirror I have to send him a couple of bucks. That's partly why he's so rich.

***********

When I was about 16 and my brother Todd was about 14, my mother took a part in a musical in New York, so we moved there for a year. I was out one evening when someone told me my mother was on the phone.

'I'm at the hospital with your brother,' she said. 'He shot himself in the leg with a blank.'

'What?' I said. 'He'll be fine,' she continued. 'He's in surgery now. Anyway, the police are here and they want to come to the house to examine the gun.

'I need you to get to the house before them to let them in, but also I need you to hide all the guns and bullets and - what else ... Oh yes! I need you to flush your brother's marijuana down the lavatory.'

************
It was Saturday night and you would think that this wouldn't be a particularly slow night for crime in New York. But you wouldn't know it looking at our living room because we had five policemen milling around, asking my mother pertinent questions such as: 'Did you know John Wayne? What kind of guy was he?'

Finally they told us they had established the gun could discharge live ammo, so my mother was in possession of an unlicensed firearm and had to go to the police station.

We got home just before 6am and there was a knock at the door.

Mom went to see who it was and came back laughing. 'It was a couple of reporters,' she said. 'They heard Todd had been shot in the leg and they wanted to know if I had done it for publicity for the show. I so badly wanted to tell them, "Yes, and now I can only do one more Broadway musical because I only have one child left to shoot for publicity."'

"Wishful Drinking" by Carrie Fisher, is published by Simon & Schuster and available here.

27 comments :

Anonymous said...

One of the minor show-biz connections in my life (all of them are minor) is that my dad and Carrie's dad were Hebrew school classmates in Philadelphia. (They were born a few weeks apart, and so were their respective firstborns, Carrie and I, for what that's worth.)

Wishful Drinking also exists as a touring stage show, a monologue by Fisher that played for about three weeks in the fall here in DC. Is she still touring, or did she stop when the book came out?

gottacook said...

Sorry, bad keystroke - previous comment was mine.

rob! said...

"Among George's many possessions, he owns my likeness, so that every time I look in the mirror I have to send him a couple of bucks. That's partly why he's so rich."

--worth a read just for that line.

ken, did you see CF when she guest-starred on 30 Rock? she was a riot.

Tallulah Morehead said...

I had hoped to title my own next one-woman show WISHFUL DRINKING (My last was RYE MEMORIES), but I had trouble casting it. Turns out that I am outside my range.

But it's nice to see that Debbie Reynolds and I lived by the same motto: "When in doubt, call Cary Grant!" Now that Cary is gone, when in doubt, I ask The Question. No, not "What would Cary Grant do?" but rather, "How would Cary Grant do this?", as he was all about personal style!

So is this the sequel to POSTCARDS FROM THE EDGE, or the rewrite? Will Shirley MacLaine play Debbie again? (Talk about revenge on your mother. What could be more fiendish than turning your mom into Shirley MacLaine?) It begged the question, who was a better Princess Leia, Carrie or Meryl Streep.

Well, I've got to go call Ava Gardner. I suspect that one of us is dead, And I want to ask her which one of us it is.

In space, nothing supports your breasts.

Wayne said...

I've enjoyed all Carrie Fisher's novels. And her the Dorothy Parker biting wit.
On a Laverne and Shirley, Carrie Fisher sang and has a great big voice ala Bette Midler. It was the only time I heard her sing. I wish she sang more.

Tallulah Morehead said...

Follow-up question for George Lucas: Does this mean that Darth Vader and Han Solo were free-balling, or was there only no ladies underwear in space?

If your breasts are weightless, I guess you wouldn't need a bra, though if mine were weightless, I'd need something to keep them out of my hair, and the ceiling fan. At least I'd stop tripping over them.

I met Buzz Aldrin once, but it never occurred to me to ask if he wore underwear on the moon, or on his moon.

Cheers

Nat G said...

They saved the bra for the second film, The Underwire Strikes Back.

xjill said...

Ken,
Did you see her one-woman show when she did it at the Geffen a few years back? Amazing and great fun!

Roger Owen Green said...

WWCD - What Would Cary Do? Sounds like a movement afoot!

Some of these were so laugh-out-loud funny that I'm going to have to read this book.

Mike Bell said...

YE GADS! Does that mean Darth Vader went commando!?

Matthew said...

No wonder Darth Vader was always so pissed off. Imagine having to slide on and off those leather pants all the time without any protection for the family jewels.

Vermonter17032 said...

I understand that Harrison Ford's character was originally to be called Hang Solo.

Tom Quigley said...

Wonder if she wrote anything about her short-lived marriage to Paul Simon, which I understand broke up when he decided he'd be happier if he was out on tour, lookin' for fun and feelin' groupies....

Mike Bell said...

INT JEDI TEMPLE DAY

OBI WAN KENOBI and ANNAKIN SKYWALKER walk through the marbled halls.

OBI WAN
You seem troubled my young
Padewan.

ANNAKIN
It's Master Yoda. He kinda ooks
me out.

OBI WAN
Ooks?

ANNAKIN
Yeah, ooks. Whenever I visit
him in his chambers, he sits
in that high chair thingy of
his.

OBI WAN
Yes, go on.

ANNAKIN
Master, he bids me to come
closer and he, well, he -

OBI WAN
Yes?

ANNAKIN
- He lets his Jedi robes slip
open, and well, you know -

OBI WAN
Uh, right. Have you expressed
your, ah, problem with this/

ANNAKIN
Yeah. But then he starts up with
all that backwards speaking
crap. I tell him I can see his
junk and he says, "Oooh, my
junk it is you see."

OBI WAN
I know what you mean my young
apprentice.

ANNAKIN
When I told him it kind of
ooked me out, he's all "Oooh,
ook or ook not, there is no
kind of."

OBI WAN (under breath)
Passive aggressive little frog -

ANNAKIN
Master?

OBI WAN
Oh, nothing. Let's grab lunch
shall we?

EDGE WIPE to DEATH STAR BRIDE. Vader is bitchy...

Mike Bell said...

Aww dang it, I left off "Flashback" at the beginning. Sorry.

Rinaldo said...

"Among George's many possessions, he owns my likeness, so that every time I look in the mirror I have to send him a couple of bucks. "

That's a good line. And she must know it, because I've heard her use it on TV. At least now I know how she came up with such a great quip on Dinner for Five -- it wasn't off-the-cuff, she'd been working on her book.

Mary Stella said...

I love Carrie Fisher's books. I think Postcards from the Edge is terrific. The Best Awful was more difficult to read because there's so much pain in the laughter and I'd read interviews that discussed how much was from Carrie's own life.

My verification word is ighten. Someone tightened the verifications so much, they squeezed off the t. Either that, or someone held back on telling me to lighten up.

George Junak said...

Hmmm, I think if Carrie Fisher ever starts her own blogsite, you're going to be toast, pal...

Joe said...

For reasons I cannot quite explain, I have a bit of a crush on Carrie Fisher.

Eric Curtis said...

That gold bikini in "The Return of the Jedi" had a profound effect on me growing up...

I haven't read a biography in years, but those excerpts make me want to pick up this one. It sounds like a riot.

Dhppy said...

Yes, that Fisher is two hoots and a half. Completely unrelated question: I just joined Facebook --- do you have anything on there? Like the writer's thingy?

AlaskaRay said...

>>Tallulah Morehead said...
In space, nothing supports your breasts.<<

In the absence of gravity (e.g. in space) breasts do not require any support. Even those that you might have to tuck into your panty hose on earth would look pert. The problem is, that without a bra there's the real risk that your breasts might float off into space, much like that tookbox a couple weeks ago.

Ray

len dreary said...

Carrie Fisher is a magnificent writer.
I've read all her books several times and once bought bulk copies of 'Postcards' to give to all my friends for Christmas.

I also admit to being wildly attracted to her and altho happily married still harbor a secret fantasy life where Carrie and I lie around all day taking drugs and talking, talking talking.

I once went to her website with the idea of writing to her but it seems she has a million other fans no doubt far more interesting than me so I'll continue to worship from afar, buy everything she writes and wish her every happiness imaginable.

Weisenheimer said...

Fisher will be performing "Wishful Drinking" at the Seattle Repertory Theatre in April.

My verification word is riers. I think those are the guys who cut the bread when someone makes a patty melt...

Rooby said...

I am going to buy this book tomorrow. Kudos to Carrie Fisher for sharing her wonderful sense of humour and sharing parts of her amazing life she has had! Oh and please ignore what will appear to be occasional spelling errors....You have an Aussie in your midst that stumbled onto this site.

I've been here for hours and will probably still be here for the next 10 days!! Who needs sleep when there is much amusement to be had reading this blog???

Love it!!

scottmc said...

Ken,
You should consider posting this entry again. I found it by accident while searching the archive for another of your posts. Happy New Year.

Ken Levine said...

scottmc,

That's a GREAT idea. I am going to do that tomorrow. Thanks so much. I had forgotten I wrote this.