Entertainment Weekly's Sept. 28, 1990 cover story included the now-famous photo of her watching in the wings as her mother, Debbie Reynolds, performed on stage.
As the world mourned the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds this week — with Reynolds dying just one day after her daughter — an image surfaced that captured the attention of Hollywood and beyond. The photograph, shot in black and white, shows a young Fisher waiting in the wings, watching in awe as Reynolds performed on stage.
It seems to encompass so much of what the world knew of them — Fisher’s life as the daughter of an acting icon, and that indescribable bond between mother and child seen in their interviews and depicted in the Star Wars star’s writing.
The image was captured by Lawrence Schiller at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas in 1963 when Fisher was 6 years old. The photographer recalled to PEOPLE that Fisher was “inseparable” from her mother. “I remember she just sat there for the whole performance. It wasn’t like she was there for two minutes then ran away or started to cry,” Schiller said. “She was just mesmerized by her mother.”
It’s an image that, it turns out, ran in the pages of Entertainment Weekly more than two decades ago. The Sept. 28, 1990 issue of EW featured Fisher on the cover, along with a corresponding interview tied to her book-turned-film, Postcards From the Edge.
Doris Brautigan, then a photo editor at the magazine, recalled finding the image in the Time Inc. Picture Collection while working on that story. “I remember when I saw it I thought it was stunning, and said a lot about her relationship with her mother, of course. … Her mother was always a part of her persona and her comedy, so it seemed very relevant. Jim Seymore, who was the editor of Entertainment Weekly at the time, he liked it so much he put it [on a] full page.”
Brautigan says she’s “fairly certain” this was the first time that photo appeared in print, though it may have appeared in a fan magazine around the time the photograph was taken.
“It was perfect for the story,” she tells EW now. “It was a great moment – Debbie Reynolds’ pose, that tiny figure of her in a very ‘That’s Entertainment!’ kind of pose, like a cake ornament or something. And her daughter, you could imagine trying to put yourself in her position because you don’t see what she’s thinking on her face, you’re looking over her shoulder. And it’s just very telling that she was that present – you could just feel the intensity of her studying her mother.”
The photo ran in the cover story alongside Fisher’s reflections on her family, Hollywood, and the then-newly-released film adaptation of Postcards. She told Margot Dougherty that while the mother-daughter characters in Postcards from the Edge shared similarities with her and Reynolds, they weren’t meant to mirror the pair’s relationship.
”I wrote about a mother actress and a daughter actress,” she said. ”I’m not shocked that people think it’s about me and my mother. It’s easier for them to think I have no imagination for language, just a tape recorder with endless batteries.”
”Now everyone thinks that my mother and I fight on the stairs,” Fisher added, referring to a pivotal scene in the movie. ”I feel bad that people think that my mother is so self-obsessed that ‘how are you’ never crosses her lips. She’s not like that.”
Head here to read Fisher’s full 1990 profile from Entertainment Weekly.
Though they had a complicated relationship and were estranged for several years, Fisher and Reynolds eventually reconciled and remained close at the time of their deaths — so close that they lived next door to one another.
“She’s an immensely powerful woman, and I just admire my mother very much,” Fisher said in an interview a month before she died, adding, “There’s very few women from her generation who worked like that, who just kept a career going all her life, and raised children, and had horrible relationships, and lost all her money, and got it back again. I mean, she’s had an amazing life, and she’s someone to admire.”