Carrie Frances Fisher was born into a showbusiness dynasty and lived much of her life in the full glare of Hollywood's limelight.
She was the daughter of singer Eddie Fisher and actress Debbie Reynolds, who became a household name thanks to her 1952 role in Singin' In The Rain alongside Gene Kelly.
Her parents parted ways when her father left Debbie for Hollywood starlet Elizabeth Taylor.
Carrie, who was born in Beverly Hills, on October 21 1956, was one of two children from the marriage. Her brother, Todd, also followed in the family footsteps to carve out a career in the entertainment industry.
She made her acting debut in 1975 in Shampoo, appearing alongside Hollywood stars Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn.
But her big break was landing the role of Princess Leia in the first instalment of the Star Wars Trilogy, Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977.
The movie became a surprise global blockbuster, earning her the same fame as her mother.
She went on to appear in the 1980 hit The Blues Brothers and in the same year graced the cover of Rolling Stone magazine alongside her Star Wars co-stars as they promoted the next instalment, The Empire Strikes Back.
But she was also a successful writer.
In 1987 she published Postcards From The Edge, which was later turned into a Hollywood blockbuster starring Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine and Dennis Quaid.
Meryl played the title role of actress Suzanne Vale, a recovering addict trying to get her life back on track. The part earned her a best actress nomination at the 1991 Academy Awards.
Most of Carrie's novels, including Postcards From The Edge, have been New York Times best-sellers, while her one-woman confessional stage show, Wishful Drinking, was published in book form in 2008, to rave reviews.
The stage show saw her talk frankly about failed marriages to Paul Simon and Hollywood agent Bryan Lourd, with whom she had a daughter, Billie.
The actress also lifted the lid on other colourful events from her life including the death of a gay Republican lobbyist in her California mansion in 2005 from an overdose of painkillers.
Her 2011 memoirs, Shockaholic, documented her time spent with the late singer Michael Jackson and her stepmother Elizabeth Taylor, who married her father when she was just two. Taylor would later leave Eddie Fisher and marry actor Richard Burton.
Carrie spoke openly about her battles with drug and alcohol addiction, and her periods of depression.
Her father died in 2010, following complications after hip surgery.
In an interview with the Press Association, while promoting Shockaholic in 2011, she spoke about his loss.
Asked how she coped, she said: "Like I do with everything else, I pretend it's not happening until I can't any more. It just haunted me and stayed with me. It still does.
"It bothers me that I wasn't there (she was on tour when when he died). He was calling for me. I felt I let him down. How crazed is that?"
More recently, Carrie made headlines with her book The Princess Diarist, in which she claimed she had an "intense" affair with co-star Harrison Ford during the making of Star Wars.
She said she had a three-month romance with Harrison - a married father-of-two at the time - which she kept secret for 40 years.
She told People magazine: "It was so intense. It was Han and Leia during the week, and Carrie and Harrison during the weekend."
Carrie was 19 at the time, 14 years younger than Harrison.
Appearing on the Graham Norton show earlier this month, she said she thought her revelation had "bugged" Harrison.
"I had no idea it would cause such a sensation - 400,000 news sites picked up on it and it became a little embarrassing," she said.
"They made a lot of things up which I now have to talk about - I never said he was bad in bed."