Carrie Fisher: A trailblazer for women throughout the decades

Mark Hamill Carrie Fisher Harrison Ford
This photo provided by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment shows, Mark Hamill, from left, as Luke Skywalker, Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia Organa, and Harrison Ford as Hans Solo in the original 1977 "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" film, included in the new Blu-ray release of "Star Wars: The Complete Saga" out on Oct. 13, 2015. The new film, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," opens in U.S. theaters on Dec. 18, 2015. (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment via AP)

TAMPA, Fla.  (WFLA) – Carrie Fisher inspired a generation of young women as the fierce Princess Leia in Star Wars and now millions across the country are mourning the actress, author, and advocate.

It was 1977 and the feisty princess wowed audiences in the first film of the Star Wars trilogy.

“We were glad to see a head honcho now, but back then it was just great that she was a team player,” recalled Heidi Handel, watching the movie decades ago.

During her final two years, Fisher came back to the story that made her famous and reprised her role in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” but this time the princess had become the general.

“She’s this grown woman who’s now this really cool authoritative figure,” said Hannah Handel, Heidi’s daughter.

Fisher was a woman who took charge not only on the big screen, but in real life.

Behind the curtain, she struggled with addiction.

“She had a great personality but at the same time, she had a dark side, too,” recalled Karen Vigliotti, on vacation with her family from New York.

Fisher fought back and shared her struggle with the world about her bipolar diagnosis.

“I think she was a trailblazer with telling her truth,” Heidi Handel told News Channel 8.

“We dismiss them as crazy, which I also think is very sad, so I think it’s very brave of her to do those things, too,” agree her daughter, Hannah.

Fisher’s life and her characters are lessons for fans spanning the decades.

“I think my daughter can do anything she wants to and she can be anything that she sets her mind to being and before, we didn’t have those opportunities,” said Heidi Handel, saying Fisher played a role in that.

“Being a role model for young girls in her time period and in a way, she still kind of is, because Star Wars is still going,” said Karen Vigliott’s daughter, Izzy.

Fisher appeared in both “Stars Wars: The Force Awakens” as well as “Star Wars: Episode VIII,” which will be released next year.

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