Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher has died in hospital, days after suffering a heart attack on a transatlantic flight.
The 60-year-old, who became an international screen star and sex symbol when she appeared as Princess Leia in the 1977 sci-fi blockbuster, was taken ill on a flight from London to Los Angeles on December 23.
In a statement released on behalf of Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd, spokesman Simon Halls said: “It is with a very deep sadness that Billie Lourd confirms that her beloved mother Carrie Fisher passed away at 8.55 this morning.
“She was loved by the world and she will be missed profoundly. Our entire family thanks you for your thoughts and prayers.”
Fisher had appeared to be stable in hospital in California following her medical episode on a United Airlines flight on Friday.
Her mother Debbie Reynolds tweeted on Christmas Day: “Carrie is in stable condition. If there is a change, we will share it. For all her fans & friends. I thank you for your prayers & good wishes.”
Tributes have poured in for the actor, who went on to appear in three Star Wars sequels including 2015’s seventh film in the franchise, The Force Awakens.
Mark Hamill, who played the main role of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars alongside Fisher, tweeted: “No words #Devastated.”
Anthony Daniels, who played the android C3PO, said: “I thought I had got what I wanted under the tree. I didn’t. In spite of so many thoughts and prayers from so many. I am very, very sad.”
Billy Dee Williams, who played buccaneer turned resistance general Lando Calrissian alongside Fisher in The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi, said: “I’m deeply saddened at the news of Carrie’s passing. She was a dear friend, whom I greatly respected and admired. The force is dark today!”
Fisher also lent her voice to the cartoon series Family Guy, playing the part of Angela, the overbearing brewery boss of main character Peter Griffin. The show’s creator, Seth MacFarlane, said: “Carrie Fisher was smart, funny, talented, surprising, and always a hell of a fun time to be around. Family Guy will miss her immensely.”
Star Trek actor William Shatner tweeted: “I’m deeply saddened to learn of the death of Carrie Fisher. I will miss our banterings. A wonderful talent & light has been extinguished.”
Actress Whoopi Goldberg said: “Carrie Fisher has passed, she was funnier & smarter than anyone had the right to be. Sail On Silver Girl. Condolences Debbie & Billie R.I.P.”
Mia Farrow added: “Carrie was brilliant, funny and talented. Sending huge love be to her mom, her daughter, Billie and her many friends.”
Fisher appeared as a guest on Graham Norton’s show at the beginning of the month to promote her latest memoir titled The Princess Diarist.
Norton tweeted; “Numb. Unbelievable that such a bright funny loving spark could be extinguished. @carrieffisher you will be missed. I wish you peace.”
Fisher had made headlines recently with a revelation from her book claiming she had an ‘’intense’’ affair with her co-star Harrison Ford during the making of Star Wars.
She claimed she had a three-month romance with Ford - 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.’’
Fisher was 19 at the time of the alleged affair in 1976, 14 years younger than Ford, who was 33.
Over the course of the Star Wars franchise, Leia matured from a lithe, bikini-clad princess to a seasoned and respected resistance general in the latest instalment.
Fisher had been due to reprise her role for Star Wars VIII, which is scheduled for release in December 2017.
The actress was born in Beverly Hills, California, to actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, who also found fame hosting his own television show.
She made her acting debut in 1975 in Shampoo, starring alongside household names such as Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn.