Saying Goodbye to Modern Mythmakers in 2016- Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds Add to a Heartbreaking List

Carrie Fisher

Debbie Reynolds

George Michael


David Bowie

Leonard Cohen

And to so many others…….May the Force be with you- Always.

No better phrase to come to mind when saying goodbye to someone. Whether that is to send them off on an adventure, or to part for the last time. The words have a mythic quality, and were written to be so. The Force has been particularly malevolent this year.

The tragic news of the death of Carrie Fisher at age 60, and her mother, Debbie Reynolds dying at 84 only one day later, has added a rattled heartbreak to an already tragic year of unprecedented losses in the Baby Boomer generation of heroes, heroines and entertainers.

The list of names above represents only a few of those we lost in 2016- collective cornerstones of iconic American life. Modern day mythology was made by these incredibly talented and influential figures, and their legend will only grow with the passing of time. As mythologist Joseph Campbell, has said, “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Indeed. Let’s take a look at the everyday hero’s who have risen to legend.

Star Wars redefined what is possible in movie making special effects, combined with a modern mythic storyline that has imprinted generations. in 1977, Fisher became a modern day goddess overnight, and will always remain so. Her legendary character, Princess Lea, was the sole female heroine in the first Star Wars trilogy, and empowered a generation with her intelligence, sensuality and directed power.

Her mother, Debbie Reynolds, came of age with a starring role at age 19 in Singing in the Rain, and captivated the world with her innocence, beauty and grace. The myth of Demeter and Persephone comes to mind when considering the unshakable bond between the two. A caretaker to Reynolds in her later years, Fisher was unapologetic about her role, and it is clear Reynolds could not live without her.

Taking a tragic turn into the mythic heroes in the music industry,

David Bowie and Prince commanded rock and roll to a new level with explosive electric guitar riffs, and raw sexuality; defining new mythic archetypes with fashion, musical genius, and other worldly performance skills. George Michael encapsulated the classically sexy “boy next store crush” archetype, and kept the beat going for decades with his Dionysus looks, silky voice and irresistibly uplifting tunes. The celestial circle rounds out with the Sphynx-like deep and brooding poetry of Leonard Cohen, who’s final lyrics were, “I wish there was a treaty between your love and mine.”

All represented mastery in their work, all defined a unique archetype that nestled into the soul of our culture. All will be missed.

Losing so many peers in a stage of life that has now become one of relatively vigorous good health is particularly unsettling. Science says many Baby Boomers can expect to live close to 100 these days, and nothing reminds us of our mortality than losing one legend after another far too young.

Both Bowie and Cohen knew they were leaving this Earth, and created final coda albums to say goodbye with “Blackstar” and “You Want It Darker.” I believe they speak for all their mythic brothers and sisters taking their place on the Mount Olympus of our hearts. They will be missed, and their legend lives on.

By, Kari Henley


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