Todd Fisher can still vividly recall the last conversation he had with his sister, Hollywood star and “Star Wars” icon Carrie Fisher.
The pair were celebrating the actress’ birthday with a lavish party thrown by their mother, fellow screen legend Debbie Fisher, who had suffered a stroke a year before.
The siblings, who noticed their mother was excited but frail, were compelled to open up with each other.
“We were talking about traveling together and doing other things, and she was still a little angry at me because, A, the party I had to sort of force down her throat, but my mom wanted it, and B, there was always different tension between the family of mom, particularly myself, and Carrie, as it related to her drug use at the time,” the 60-year-old told Fox News.
“… But when Carrie and I got face-to-face, there was no way to have any of that. It just melted away, because the blood, the relationship between brother and sister, the bond, is so deep… She broke down and said '… We have to be OK with each other. It’s the foundation.'”
Carrie died in 2016 at age 60 after suffering from a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Their mother died just a day later at age 84 from a stroke.
Fisher, determined to keep the legacies of the two women alive, recently published a memoir titled “My Girls.” He revealed the writing process helped him cope with the loss.
“... Losing a mother and a sister so close together, it’s devastating,” he explained. “I think what was even more heartbreaking was the effect that it had on my niece. Watching the side effects of it are also very difficult… [But] looking at my mother in particular, she would be furious if you were to go into depression and just become a recluse. She would want you to step out of it."
“Now of course, everybody needs to deal with it," added Fisher. "I’m a Christian. I happen to believe that we’ll all meet again… My mother was a Christian. She believed that. Carrie believed it. We’ll all meet again… Also, [Carrie] visits me in my dreams, and I appreciate that, too… It was very cathartic, writing the book. It was heartbreaking… But I had to do it. Without Carrie there to write all the family stories, I’m the last man standing. If something happened to me, those stories would be lost.”
One of the misconceptions Fisher wanted to address in his book was his mother’s final moments. Reports insisted Reynolds broke down and died from a broken heart after her daughter’s death. But Fisher said his mother was always determined to be by her daughter’s side.
“She [said], ‘I really need to be with her,’” Fisher recalled. “‘I miss her.’ In effect, she closed her eyes within moments of that and just went to sleep and never woke up. It was a beautiful exit, in many ways, and it was… I think it was almost a gift to me.
"Nobody wants to see a bad exit… Also, it was her mission in life always to look after Carrie. Carrie was a bit more needy than me. I was brought onto this Earth to be Carrie’s companion… Literally, I was brought here so Carrie wouldn’t be alone. My mother went with her in the end, where I could not go, so she would not be alone.”
Fisher insisted Reynolds was always protective of her little girl, especially when Carrie embarked on what would quickly become a thriving acting career. When Carrie first appeared in the 1975 film “Shampoo” opposite Warren Beatty, it was Reynolds who stepped in.
“Carrie got this little part, and she plays a teenager,” explained Fisher. “Warren Beatty, effectively, ends up sleeping with her, and Carrie has to use the F-word to him. My mother saw the script early on and was like, ‘No, no, no. You’re not gonna drop the F-bomb in your first movie on TV. I’ve never used the F-word, and I’ve been doing this for years. So Carrie was like, ‘No, I have to do this. I wanna… I don’t care.’”
Reynolds attempted to convince Beatty to change the word to “screw” in the script, but the actor, who was eager to shock audiences, declined. Fisher wouldn’t know what happened next until Beatty, now 81, told him about a year ago.
“He said, ‘Your mother looked at me, and she said, ‘If you touch my daughter, I will have you 86ed — you know, eight miles out, six feet down.’ He knew what that meant, ‘cause that was the old mafia term... He was like, ‘No problem, Debbie.’ And he never touched Carrie.”
But while Reynolds was attempting to protect Carrie from the wilds of Hollywood, Fisher was having his own fun. He claimed actor Tony Curtis became his pot dealer at one point when the family was living in New York City.
“He had just moved in, and he was showing us around the house,” said Fisher. “I had just gotten to town and, being a teenager, he assumed that Carrie and I were smoking a little pot… So he puts his arm around me and he goes, ‘Hey, man.’ Puts a couple joints in my pocket, and he goes, ‘Don’t go to strangers.’
"I’d only known him from the movies. I was a little kid when he made the movie ‘The Rat Race’ with my mother, and nobody was even thinking in these terms… At that moment, my mother didn’t know Carrie and I were smoking pot at all. He was even kind of hiding it from her. So it was a little bit of a revelation.”
Reynolds also wasn’t aware of the romance Carrie, then 19, had developed with Harrison Ford, who was in his 30s, while they both filmed “Star Wars,” which premiered in 1977.
“They had an impetuous affair and I was aware of it — not in any huge detail because it wasn’t that big of a thing,” said Fisher. “It wasn’t like it was such an ongoing thing. But Carrie had sworn me to secrecy on it, and no one had ever said anything to my mother.”
Reynolds wouldn’t know about the relationship until decades later, when she read Carrie’s personal journals, which were stored in the family archives, to help her daughter write “The Princess Diarist” in 2016. Carrie was willing to come clean with the world, but Reynolds wasn’t keen on the idea.
“She shows it to my mother at some point, and my mother is like, ‘Meh. Not a good idea to tell the Harrison story,’” said Fisher. “Carrie’s like, ‘Nobody cares anymore. It was so long ago. It’s 30 years, more, 40 years ago, almost.’ My mom’s like, ‘Nah, you know, people do care.’”
The story would appear in the book, a decision Carrie would later regret.
“It became a bit of a salacious tale that certain people were offended by or didn’t approve of,” said Fisher. “It was funny, because Carrie, who’s sort of immune to some types of criticism, she went back to my mom and was like, ‘Hey, maybe I shouldn’t have told that story.’ My mom’s like, ‘What can I say? Mothers know a few things.’”
Fisher, who found great joy in reliving the many memories of his star-studded childhood, hopes his book will give fans a new perspective on the two women he continues to love and protect.
“I think both Carrie and Debbie would be happy that we got those tales out because they were good stories,” he said. “It was a life well-lived.”