After returning home from a brief family vacation — four days of intense fun, probably a week to recover from aforementioned enjoyment — I was considering what to blog about this week. There are so many beautiful doll creations, and my mind didn’t know which lovely lineup to line up! But, then, it suddenly came to me: Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia, Zwergnase Dolls, and HBO! Talk about a quartet of quirkiness.
While I was away in DC, I brought a book to read in any downtime that I might manage to find. Well, naturally, there was no downtime. The idea of just relaxing and doing nothing was a pipe dream — a far, faraway fantasy that would never come to pass. Every second was action-packed with places to go, people to see, and performances to cheer. It was a whirlwind tour from start to finish. While I looked at seemingly a million artifacts (from Kabuki makeup to funeral masks, gemstones to Germanic armor), I also did tons of people-watching. So many of the little kids who were toddling around the nation’s capital reminded me of the urchins that Zwergnase has always unveiled. The dolls of the Zwergnase universe are always bold and brilliant, pretty and personality-filled.
One of the dolls I like a whole lot for 2017 (from Nicole Marschollek-Menzner, Zwergnase’s founder and chief designer) is not a child creation. Rather, the very limited doll (19 worldwide) reminds me of a young Carrie Fisher in her Princess Leia mode. Prinzessin Maria is nearly 3 feet tall and her demeanor and hair hue (a rich auburn brown) reminds me of Fisher in many of her classic screen appearances. (It’s amazing how many enduring roles she racked up. Her comedic timing in “When Harry Met Sally” and “Hannah and Her Sisters” will hold up over the course of time.)
Sadly, Fisher is no longer in our world, having passed away on December 27, 2016. Her lifetime was cut short way too soon, but her aura and the force of her witty, sarcastic personality will remain with us for a long time. Fisher was hovering in my thoughts because her most famous film role — the indomitable space warrior and regal ruler — was enmeshed all across Washington, DC. At the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, as well as the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, the Carrie/Leia legacy lives on. There are photographs and posters, souvenirs and mementoes — her likeness abounds in curated exhibits, as well as in the collectible section of museum shops. Carrie/Leia has become a part of the American lexicon, a royal member of our pop-culture legends. Her impact is venerated both behind glass cases and also on the T-shirts of DC visitors who wander around the Mall and past the Capitol Building.
Interestingly, while I was having these fleeting Carrie Fisher epiphanies, the actress’s iconic role and appearance as Princess Leia was being feted at Comic Con. The world-famous gathering of sci-fi and comic-book fans, producers, stars, collectors, and the press assembled in San Diego over this past weekend. Just as I was realizing how much sway Leia held over the American imagination — current NASA astronauts and engineers had their science interest sparked courtesy of the STAR WARS saga — the Comic Con attendees were paying tribute to their fallen hero.
Four costuming clubs congregated at the convention to dress up as Leia and memorialize what the Fisher character meant to them. Some of the women shared how they wore wedding gowns fashioned after the Leia draped-white robe; others marched down the aisle to the strains of Leia’s musical theme and other soundtrack music from the original trilogy. Fan art from around the world was displayed at Comic Con, and a large bulk of it was a testament to fictional Leia and the complicated real-life woman who brought her to life.
It is disheartening to think that Carrie Fisher has departed this planet so soon (she was only 60 years old). However, her years of hard-fought sobriety had vanished, and the coroner’s report revealed that she was still dabbling with narcotics, to a deadly end. In her lifetime, she proved herself to be a friend to collectors, understanding their passions and their tendencies. A collector herself — her mom, Debbie Reynolds, was an enormous collector of Hollywood memorabilia, too — Fisher had a sense of humor about what she amassed. While Reynolds acquired top-shelf, top-notch bits of ephemera to preserve the glamour and sophistication of Old Hollywood, Fisher loved to attain kitschy pieces of pop art. She collected and displayed doll versions of herself (oops, I mean of Princess Leia) and adored finding outrageous effigies of her Tinsel Town pals and fellow icons.
Her home was stuffed with her purchases, and she often joked that her mother was a collector, an aspiring museum curator. Carrie, on the other hand, said that she personally was just a packrat with a big pocketbook. If she saw something she liked, she didn’t question whether she should buy it. She grabbed it, paid for it, and then proudly added it to her colorful and eccentric house.
On HBO, a heartwarming and entertaining film about the camaraderie between Debbie and Carrie can be streamed via On Demand. Entitled “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” the documentary explores the connection these two strong personalities shared. Both women seem entirely devoted to one another — though they also appear to simultaneously get on one another’s nerves — and the deep bond they had was put to the test when Carrie passed away so suddenly. Her mother, Debbie, died the following day. Fans know it was from a broken heart — no coroner’s report needed.
That’s why it seemed a good choice to honor Carrie Fisher in this week’s DOLL CHRONICLES. Throughout her life, she had been made into a fashion doll and an action figure, a porcelain figurine and a flesh-colored model (collectors could paint her by number). There was even a life-size “sex doll” version of Fisher as Leia, one that she bought and displayed in her home. The woman had a riotous sense of humor.
Yes, without even realizing it, this blog had already written itself. It was directed by a force that I wasn’t even aware of. The Zwergnase doll, posing in front of a stack of books, reminded me of Carrie Fisher. Fisher, an actress and an author, told interviewers that she was a bookworm since childhood: books had saved her life in her early years. And I, hoping to find time to read a page or two, had carried Fisher’s “The Princess Diarist” with me to DC.
I didn’t find time to read this last (and final) book by the witty and prolific Carrie Fisher, the author. However, I did find time to remember her, be moved by her, and pay tribute to her. I wish books had continued to save her. She credited them with her teenage survival skills. I wish they had the force to keep her alive in her much more complex adult years.