Happy New Year. I can't believe how many wonderful people we lost last year, including Carrie Fisher. As I mentioned earlier we were casual friends (until shock treatments erased any memory of me.) I had forgotten but nine years ago I did a post showcasing her then-just released autobiography, WISHFUL DRINKING. Reader ScottMc reminded me of it and suggested I re-post it. Thanks, ScottMc, that's a great idea. So here it is.
These are just a couple of brief excerpts to give you a taste of what a wonderful, perceptive, and hilarious person she was, and the insane shit she had to put up with growing up in Hollywood royalty. And I don't mean to be callous but when I heard that Debbie Reynolds had died the day after Carrie my first thought was, "Are you kidding? She upstaged Carrie again?" Now why would I think that? Read on. (And now we learn they're having a joint funeral. Carrie doesn't even get her own memorial service.)
I was born, my mother was given an anesthetic because they didn't have
epidurals in those days. Consequently, she was unconscious.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
I live next door to my mom now. She is still a little eccentric.
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.'
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.
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.
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.'
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.
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.'
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
'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
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?'
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.
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.