“Star Wars” actress Carrie Fisher died on Tuesday in Los Angeles at age 60 after suffering a heart attack on Friday. The agony continued for Fisher’s family today after her mother, Debbie Reynolds, died at 84 following a stroke, TMZ reported.
Fisher leaves behind in her 2008 memoir “Wishful Drinking” intoxicating anecdotes of her life in the spotlight and upbringing with her mother — revealing the grand splendor growing up in an estate before Harry Karl, her shoe magnate stepfather, allegedly squandered Reynolds’ $100 million fortune.
Fisher’s life was extraordinary from the very start: She was born to “Singin’ in the Rain” actress Debbie Reynolds and crooner Eddie Fisher, a singer who scandalously divorced “America’s sweetheart” Debbie after four years together (1955-1959) and quickly married her friend Elizabeth Taylor.
One of the details of her youth that she recalls with irreverent humor follows her time living with Karl, her mother’s second husband. The couple married in 1960.
Karl was the president of the former Karl’s Shoe Stores, which by 1969 was one of the largest independently owned retail shoe store chains in the country, according to UPI. At the time, there were 294 outposts in 21 states.
Indeed, life with the successful shoe magnate was quite lavish. They lived in a home that she referred to as “The Embassy,” Carrie said in the 2010 stage show version of her memoir.
“It looked more like a place where you’d get your passport stamped more than a house,” she described the behemoth property that had edgy architectural details that she said resembled an “air conditioner.”
“It had things that most normal houses don’t have — for example, we had eight little pink refrigerators — just in case Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs showed up,” she said. “We had three pools in case two broke.”
“My stepfather Harry Karl, he wasn’t a really handsome man, but because he was wealthy and well-groomed he was said to be distinguished-looking — that’s wealthy with money,” Fisher continued. “And the barber who came over to make sure he was so distinguished looking — we found out he was a pimp with a talent for hair.”
Fisher said that her mother later took on a part in a musical in New York City “to get out of this marriage, which in Hollywood is a legal way to get out.”
They divorced in 1973.
In Reynolds’ 2013 memoir, “Unsinkable,” the actress — who earned an Oscar nomination for her role in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” — claimed the marriage to Karl “wiped us out financially.” Her $100 million fortunate was squandered by the retailer, she claimed.
Karl’s Shoes was founded in 1905. In 1982, after Harry’s death, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles-based company told UPI at the time they had 174 stores operating.