On this week’s cover, Entertainment Weekly has a split run – paying tribute to two artists lost unexpectedly at shockingly young ages: author and Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher and singer/songwriter George Michael.
As we were assembling the issue, another bombshell hit: the death of Fisher’s mother, Singin’ in the Rain actress Debbie Reynolds. Each of them gets a tribute in our first issue of 2017 as we reflect on their creative lives, personal dramas, and enduring legacies.
When the 60-year-old Fisher died on Dec. 27, several days after suffering a heart attack, she left behind not only multiple generations of shattered Star Wars fans, but also a second career as a novelist and memoirist from such books as Postcards from the Edge and Wishful Drinking.
As Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, she was a faithful and fearless Rebel spy and soldier, facing down Darth Vader, Jabba the Hutt, and every other rogue the galaxy with the kind of moxie Jedi only dream about. She became a touchstone for generations of girls (and boys alike) who saw a hero in her galactic diplomat, spy, and soldier – not just another damsel in distress.
People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN) remembers Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds with an inside look at the lives, legacy, and loss of these Hollywood icons. Watch here , or or download the PEN app on mobile and connected devices to stream.
In real life, Fisher endlessly mocked her character’s cinnamon-bun hairdo, golden “slave” bikini, and fluctuating faux-British accent, but by the time of 2015’s The Force Awakens, released 38 years after the original, the wisecracking actress said she and the earnest princess had merged into one: General Organa, the leader whose solemn fight against fascist dictatorships remained undaunted but was now spiked with cynical wit.
Fisher’s most famous character was a resistance warrior who would never know peace, a princess who would never know a happily-ever-after, but still, always, she was the woman who never gave up.
As part of EW’s tribute, Luke Skywalker says farewell. Mark Hamill contributed an essay about Fisher’s life and work, memorializing his friend as a true one-of-a-kind who was both maddening and wonderful. “I loved her guts and she drove me crazy. We really were like a brother and sister,” Hamill writes.
Meanwhile, our film critic Chris Nashawaty dives into the life and film history of Reynolds, who passed away the day after her daughter. He looks back at happier days, including her rain-splashing work with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, as well as Frank Sinatra’s ominous advice during the making of 1955’s The Tender Trap, and her later comeback opposite Albert Brooks in 1996’s Mother.
EW also remembers the life and career of pop star George Michael, who died of unknown causes at age 53 over Christmas, with a special tribute that traces his journey from the teen idol of Wham! to the libidinous, defiant pop star behind hits like “I Want Your Sex” and “Faith.”
Michael’s collaborators and admirers pay tribute to his talent and impact on popular culture: Supermodel Cindy Crawford, who appeared in Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” video, remembers the making of the iconic clip and its influence in the golden age of MTV; Melissa Etheridge reflects on how Michael became a beacon for the LGBT community after coming out publicly in 1998; and the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin, recalls working with Michael on 1987’s Grammy-winning single “I Knew You Were Waiting (for Me).”
PEN looks back on the life and career of the pop superstar and sex symbol who rocketed to fame in the ’80s. Watch here , or or download the PEN app on mobile and connected devices to stream.
Though Michael’s personal struggles and a handful of drug-related arrests made more headlines than his art did in his later years, Michael was determined to have the last word — or the last laugh — about his legacy. “I’ve done too many stupid things for there not to be movies made about me when I’m dead,” he told EW in 2008 about plans for a potential memoir, “so I might as well write the script.”
For more on Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and George Michael, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on stands Friday, or buy it here now. And don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.