How Meryl Streep Led Mourners in Singing Carrie Fisher's Favorite Song at Emotional Memorial Service
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Friends and family of Carrie Fisher, who died at age 60 on Dec. 27 after a heart attack, gathered Thursday for an intimate memorial at her Beverly Hills home. On Friday, a funeral service for Fisher’s mother, Debbie Reynolds, who died at age 84 following a possible stroke just one day after her daughter, will take place at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. She will be buried with some of her daughter’s ashes.
For Fisher’s memorial on Thursday, her daughter, Billie Lourd, 24, chose to have it at her mother’s home, where Fisher famously and frequently entertained (Reynolds also lived on the property). The afternoon gathering was a bittersweet throwback to the star-studded but casual parties that Fisher often threw in the eclectic, art-filled house — a piece of Hollywood history that was previously inhabited by Bette Davis and costume designer Edith Head.
According to a family friend, “Billie wanted the people her mother loved to gather in that living room one last time.” Family members in attendance included Fisher’s brother, Todd, her half-sisters Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher, and Billie’s father, Bryan Lourd. Fisher’s beloved dog Gary Fisher was also there.
The 125 guests included Penny Marshall, Meg Ryan, Richard Dreyfuss, Buck Henry, Candice Bergen, George Lucas and Gwyneth Paltrow. Eulogies were delivered by Billie Lourd, as well as Fisher’s close friends Meryl Streep, Tracey Ullman, author Bruce Wagner, comedian Stephen Fry and security expert Gavin de Becker. “All the tributes circled back to Billie and how much Carrie loved her,” says the friend.
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Guests dined on the same menu Fisher served regularly at her legendary parties: fried chicken, collard greens, and cornbread. “The only things missing were Carrie and Debbie,” says the friend, who attended many parties at the house. “Debbie would sit in the corner, and everyone there would come up and pay homage. Even the biggest stars were starstruck by her. Carrie would walk around barefoot with a can of Coca-Cola, making sure everyone was having a good time, saying the funniest things you’ve ever heard.”
At the memorial, Streep also performed Fisher’s favorite song, “Happy Days Are Here Again.” “By the end,” says the family friend, “Everyone was singing.”