• Carrie Fisher was a famous actress
  • She tragically passed away in 2016
  • Learn more about her sudden death

The world lost an icon when Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016.

The actress and comedian enjoyed a prolific career in film and television, though her best-known and breakthrough role was as "Princess Leia" in the Star Wars franchise. But fans and Fisher's family weren't prepared to say goodbye when she was suddenly hospitalized in December 2016 following a medical emergency.

Carrie Fisher: Her tragic death

News of Fisher's health incident while aboard a flight on Dec. 23, 2016, shook the entertainment world and dominated social media, where fans wished her well. She had stopped breathing shortly before the flight landed and was rushed to hospital and placed on a ventilator at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Carrie Fisher

Fisher's emergency took a tragic turn, however, as she died four days later at the hospital on Dec. 27. In the aftermath of her passing, the LA County coroner's office listed an inexact cause of death, which referenced sleep apnea and fatty buildup on the walls of arteries as contributing factors. It was later revealed that she had cocaine as well as traces of several other drugs in her system when she died, according to the AP.

After the autopsy disclosed the drug use, Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd released a statement, saying that her mother "battled drug addiction and mental illness her entire life. She ultimately died of it. She was purposefully open in all of her work about the social stigmas surrounding these diseases."

Debbie Reynolds's death followed her daughter's by one day

Fisher's death was immediately met with additional heartbreak when her mother Debbie Reynolds shockingly passed away the day after her daughter. On Dec. 28, Reynolds suffered a stroke and died in hospital at the age of 84. 

The Singin' in the Rain star was deeply affected by her daughter's death and was grieving when the "severe" stroke hit, her son Todd said. The film world, fans, and the many people touched by Fisher's and Reynolds's work were shaken by the devastating losses.

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Star Wars co-star Mark Hamill was among the stars to lead the tributes in December 2016. Hamill first tweeted simply, "no words #devastated," above a photo of him and Fisher in Star Wars. He later expanded on his thoughts in a Facebook tribute, saying: 

"Carrier was one-of-a-kind who belonged to us all- whether she liked it or not. She was OUR Princess, dammit, & the actress who played her blurred into one gorgeous, fiercely independent & ferociously funny, take charge woman who took our collective breath away," read an excerpt from Hamill's message for Fisher, a beloved star lost too soon.