By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Dec 27, 2016 at 3:46 PM

Yet another beloved, influential and inspirational celebrity was tragically added to the list of those taken from us in 2016, as the news broke this morning that actress and "Star Wars" icon Carrie Fisher died after suffering a massive heart attack. She was 60 years old. 

Reports came in late last week that Fisher went into cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles and was placed into the intensive care unit. Over the Christmas weekend, there was promise that the emergency had passed with Fisher's mother, actress Debbie Reynolds, posting on Facebook that she was in stable condition as of Sunday. However, that hope would be tragically short-lived as Billie Lourd, Fisher's daughter, released a statement through her publicist Tuesday morning confirming that Fisher passed away.

"She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly," the statement reads. "Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers"

As the Los Angeles-born daughter of an actress and singer, Fisher grew up surrounded by show business as a part of Hollywood royalty. However, her career was by no means a product of simple nepotism, as the captivating and impressively talented actress easily carved her own place in the hallowed halls of Hollywood stardom – most famously with her iconic turn as Princess Leia in the original "Star Wars" movies.

For generations growing up, discovering the arts and the movies through the beloved adventure films, she was a strong heroine, a fierce and funny woman, sensitive and sassily spirited, who commanded respect and the audience's rapt attention in a universe – both the "Star Wars" one and the Hollywood blockbuster's – mostly populated and dominated by men.

Of course, "Star Wars" was far from the only impactful performance on Fisher's impressive resume. As a relative newcomer, she stoles scenes in "Shampoo" and "The Blues Brothers," and she only continued to do so as her career went along, such as in Woody Allen's "Hannah and Her Sisters" and the '80s comedy classics "The 'Burbs" and "When Harry Met Sally." Meanwhile, behind the scenes, she often helped to make the scripts she was working with even better, serving as a low-key script doctor. 

Like many celebrities, Fisher had personal struggles that became very public. She battled addiction, bipolar disorder, tempestuous relationships and more. Yet she handled these issues with a refreshing sense of honesty, humor and humanity, turning some of them into her art with her semi-autobiographical novel turned Oscar-nominated film "Postcards from the Edge" and becoming a vocal advocate for addiction and mental health awareness. Like many other influential icons lost this year, through good times and bad, she was never anything other than her own creative colorful self, frank and funny – and only more so as she grew older, tweeting in her particularly jumbled style and often doing press interviews and red carpet events with her dog Gary delightfully in tow. 

Much to the exuberance of fans across the globe, Fisher, along with several of her original castmates, returned to "Star Wars" with "The Force Awakens." There was a particular warmth about seeing her back in her iconic role, just as commanding of the screen as ever and with such earnest heart. Much of the emotion of a major character's big death lays squarely on her reaction and shoulders, and her pain and strength reached into the crowd. We felt it all with and through her. Many actors, when they return to their star-making roles, sleepwalk; Fisher was still acting.

Selfishly, as a fan of film, it's a shame that we won't see what she would've done fully with the role of General Leia – and what other projects and performances we'll never see. According to TMZ, she at least wrapped her role in the upcoming "Episode VIII," but I'm sure more cold, show business questions about the future of the franchise's story will eventually come. But their time is for a later date. Today is a day to remember, mourn and celebrate a member of pop cultural royalty, on the screen and off. 

One last note: There's obviously been a lot of talk about 2016, the year of the celebrity deaths and what meaning we're supposed to take from it all. Should we take it all as a cautionary tale about drugs and hard living? Is it simply a natural effect from the growth of celebrity culture and entertainment  from a half-century ago, that the number of celebrities grew so of course the number of celebrity deaths would eventually have to as well? Is it nothing? After all, time is just a human construct, 2016 is just a number and this is all just tragic coincidence happening in this one particular chunk of existence. 

We could thinkpiece for days, but I guess the big, instant takeaway I have from looking back at losing all these icons so unexpectedly is appreciate the artists and people you love and respect as much as you can, while you can. We only have so much time with those who do and create great things; we should't save our love, praise and appreciation for them after they can no longer hear it. 

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.