The Truth About Carrie Fisher And Paul Simon's Relationship

This article contains references to drug use, mental health issues, and miscarriage.

Forget the likes of Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth, Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik, or Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom. These famously on-and-off celebrity pairings look like the height of stability compared to one of the best-loved power couples of the '80s – "Star Wars" icon Carrie Fisher and legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon.

The showbiz pair seemed to change their minds about each other more than most change their underwear. And that includes after they signed their divorce papers, too! Fisher may have starred in one of the all-time great rom-com movies, "When Harry Met Sally," but you'd need a multi-season Netflix dramatization to cover the ins and outs of her own turbulent relationship with the shorter half of Simon and Garfunkel.

So how did the titans of their respective fields get together in the first place? Which other famous names got in the way? And how were things between them when Fisher tragically died 40 years after they first met? Here's a look at their rollercoaster on-and-off romance.

Did Simon's then-girlfriend introduce the couple?

By the 1980s, Carrie Fisher and Paul Simon were on pretty much the same level of worldwide fame. But when they first met in 1977, the pair's profiles were dramatically different. The latter was one of the world's most cherished singer-songwriters having enjoyed success as a solo artist and as one-half of the acrimonious folk duo, Simon and Garfunkel. The former, however, was a relative unknown whose only film credit was a supporting role in the rom-com "Shampoo."

That quickly changed, though, thanks to the spectacular space opera whose set was responsible for their meet-cute. According to Biography, Fisher first clapped eyes on Simon while shooting George Lucas' "Star Wars," the hit film that would launch her career. While that part of their story has been accepted as fact, there's still some dispute over who introduced them. According to some reports, Simon's then-girlfriend, "The Shining" actor Shelley Duvall was the one to have brought the pair together, while others claim it was"Jaws" star Richard Dreyfuss

Either way, sparks flew. "Every so often, you meet someone from your tribe. Which is how I felt when I met Paul Simon," Fisher wrote in her memoir, "Wishful Drinking."As "Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon" author Peter Ames Carlin similarly attested, "Once they saw each other, no one else mattered to either of them. Carrie added velocity to [Paul's] life, a kind of wild energy that often set him alight and sometimes made him scream."

SNL helped bring them together ... and broke them apart

Although there was an instant connection between Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher on the set of "Star Wars," the pair reportedly didn't act on it until the following year. Indeed, it was only when the former showed up to the filming of a "Saturday Night Live" episode hosted by the actor in 1978 that things reached the next level. 

The musical guests on this occasion were John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, aka The Blues Brothers. Ironically, the latter would prove to be instrumental in Fisher and Simon's first but certainly not last break-up. While shooting the sharp-suited duo's big screen outing, Aykroyd fell in love with the film's Mystery Woman. And with the singer-songwriter seemingly out of the picture, the comedian grabbed the opportunity to make an honest woman out of his co-star.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune in 2008, Fisher recalled the bizarre circumstances in which that happened — while she almost choked on a Brussels sprout. "He thought I was laughing, and then he saw that I was dying, and he did the Heimlich maneuver, and then like 10 minutes later he asked me to marry him," she explained. "... I thought, 'I better marry him. What if that happens again?' We had rings, we got blood tests, the whole shot." Of course, with Fisher still harboring feelings for Simon, the pair never made it down to the aisle.

They married to save their relationship

As described by Peter Amex Carlin's book, "Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon" (via People), the couple spent six years in on and off romantic turbulence. According to the biography, Carrie Fisher and Paul Simon's relationship may have been troubled by their stacked schedules and fluctuating moods. The "Star Wars" icon's recreational drug use was also alleged to have been a further problem for the couple, with the "Graceland" singer unhappy with his girlfriend's unpredictable indulgences. When it looked as though they may be about to call it quits, they instead decided the best course of action would be to get hitched.

In 1983, the newlyweds looked loved-up at the ceremony staged at Simon's swanky Central Park duplex apartment attended by the likes of Billy Joel, Christie Brinkley, and Randy Newman. It was a last-ditch tactic that appeared to briefly work. People reported that during their wedding reception, Fisher even joked, "Let's just say we've had a stormy romance, and the storm's finally over." 

Just 24 hours later the couple once again proved that they don't do things the normal way when they celebrated not with a romantic vacation abroad but with a live performance from Simon in front of thousands of fans. Per People, the "Postcards From the Edge" author briefly took to the stage to tell the audience, "I'd like to thank you all for joining us on our honeymoon. We couldn't have done it without you."

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They even fought on their honeymoon

Although Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher initially spent their early days as a married couple on the road, they did eventually get to enjoy a proper honeymoon. Well ... enjoy might be a bit of a stretch judging by the confession that the "Star Wars" legend made in her memoir.

In her 2008 book "Wishful Drinking," Fisher admitted that she and her new husband had an almighty row during their trip along the Nile in which she threw the ultimate shade. The actor recalled saying, "Not only do I not like you, I don't like you personally!" Ironically, this insult helped to diffuse rather than intensify the situation, with the star adding, "We tried to keep the argument going after that but we were laughing too hard."

It's perhaps a good job that things eventually calmed down as Fisher and Simon weren't honeymooning alone. Yes, in another sign that they couldn't really be solely in each other's company for too long, the pair invited the latter's musical partner Art Garfunkel and his then-girlfriend, "Big" director Penny Marshall, along for the ride too.

They divorced after just 11 months

Having decided to walk down the aisle on a whim, Carrie Fisher and Paul Simon probably didn't surprise too many people by failing to last the distance. However, even in the ultra-fickle world of celebrity relationships, you might have still expected them to make the one-year anniversary mark. Sadly, that didn't prove to be the case. In 1984, just 11 months after getting hitched at Simon's New York pad in front of a showbiz crowd, the couple headed for the divorce courts. "I married Paul at twenty-six, we divorced when I was twenty-eight, and at twenty-nine I went into rehab," Fisher noted in "Wishful Drinking." She added that her rehab venture was just research for her book, "Postcards from the Edge."

Speaking to The Washington Post about the romance three years later, Fisher acknowledged, "It was a relationship based on a great conversation. It probably should have stayed a conversation." Simon has been a bit less candid about his on-and-off history with the "30 Rock" guest star, telling Rolling Stone in 2011, "I don't want to talk about Carrie. I don't mean I dislike her. I don't dislike Carrie Fisher. I just don't want to get into it."

They may have experienced a miscarriage

In one of the many revelations that came out after Carrie Fisher's death, biographer Sheila Weller claimed that the "Hannah and Her Sisters" star fell pregnant with then-husband Paul Simon's baby in 1984. According to the writer, they sadly lost the child when Fisher experienced an ectopic pregnancy. Weller also claimed that Simon acted hurtfully toward his partner following the complication in which a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus and can potentially cause organ damage and even death. Indeed, while Fisher was apparently left heartbroken by the loss, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was said to have instead been stony-faced.

"Paul was very cold to her during this time," wrote Weller in the 2019 book "A Life on the Edge." "He seemed distracted and not thinking of her. She considered what she'd had as a 'near-death experience.' She said Paul was not only unmoved by [what she went through]; he actually appeared to be angry with her about it." This may have been when Carrie realized her marriage to Paul was over. The timing of this alleged incident certainly coincides with the couple's divorce. However, neither Simon nor Fisher in her lifetime, have ever mentioned losing a child.

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They began dating again after getting divorced

As Carrie Fisher discussed in her 2008 memoir "Wishful Drinking," the ink on her divorce papers to Paul Simon had barely dried before they decided to give things one more try. "Paul and I dated for six years, married for two, divorced for one, and then we had good memories of each other so what do you think we did?" she wrote. "We dated again."

Peter Ames Carlin, who penned the biography "Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon" (via ET) believed the singer-songwriter found it difficult to truly let go. "There had always been something perfect about them when they were getting along: the way they huddled together, the way he grounded her, the way she could make him laugh so easily," he wrote. "And he loved her, with a desperation that could frighten him."

So how long did Simon and Fisher's Version 3.0 relationship end up lasting? Perhaps surprisingly the on-and-off pair managed to last until around 1990 before calling it quits, according to In Style. Within that time, Fisher also became a stable influence on Simon's son, Harper, from the "You Can Call Me Al" singer's first marriage to Peggy Harper.

Carrie Fisher claimed drugs didn't impact their relationship

If you believe "Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon" author Peter Ames Carlin, a contributing factor as to why Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher repeatedly broke up was the latter's recreational drug use. The singer-songwriter reportedly found it difficult to cope with his other half constantly yo-yoing between states of ecstasy and depression. Carlin wrote (via People), "[Paul] didn't want to have to deal with Carrie when she came pinballing home with Christ only knew what powders and pills sizzling inside her feverish skull."

However, in a 1987 interview with The Washington Post, Fisher refuted the claims that her regular substance use was to blame for the constant turbulence: "It wasn't like that at all," she said. "It was an issue, but it wasn't the issue. There are so many things that make a relationship go wrong."

The actor, however, had no qualms about discussing the various types of substances she'd tried over the years, stating, "Grass stopped working for me early on. I loved acid. Acid is like MDA with colors. I liked the colors. They used to call me 'The Pocket Zen Master.' Because I had done all these spiritual retreats and it's all like, 'I feel so connected and now I see it and you should just love everyone.'" Ironically, it was on one of these spiritual retreats in the Amazon three years later, and specifically during an ayahuasca trip, that Fisher finally realized she and Simon were incompatible.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

A trip to the Amazon sealed their fate

Paul Simon and Carrie Fisher appeared to have a keen interest in the world's biggest rivers. As well as sailing down the Nile for their honeymoon in 1983, the on-and-off couple also journeyed to the Amazon seven years later. Unfortunately, this particular trek proved to be the catalyst for their final break-up — and this time it really was final.

While enjoying some of the local refreshments — specifically a tea made with the mind-altering natural substance known as ayahuasca — Fisher had an experience that made her break things off for good. According to "Homeward Bound" author, Peter Ames Carlin (via People), Simon was resting his head on the actor's lap, when she experienced a dramatic vision. "[Fisher felt] pinned beneath Paul's ever-spinning, ever-controlling brain," Carlin wrote. "[She felt it was] about the way he, like so many powerful men she knew, assumed his expertise and control over every situation."

That may sound like things ended in acrimonious circumstances. However, Fisher told The New York Times in 2012 that her memories of the relationship are largely fond ones. "It was very painful to not be able to make it work," she reflected. "... We had a good time together when we did. We had a similar sense of humor, and our fights were sometimes hilarious."

Carrie Fisher inspired several Paul Simon songs

Although Paul Simon was hesitant to speak about his relationship with Carrie Fisher, he seemed more than happy to sing about it. For example, according to Genius,  the title track from 1983's "Hearts and Bones," is said to be about their last-ditch attempt to avoid breaking up. Featuring the lyrics, "Two people were married/The act was outrageous/The bride was contagious/ She burned like a bride," it's hard to argue otherwise. 

The multiple Grammy Award winner also seemed to reflect on their divorce on the eponymous number from 1986's "Graceland," featuring the lyrics, "And she said losing love/Is like a window in your heart/Everybody sees you're blown apart/Everybody sees the wind blow." And then in 1990, the year that the on-and-off couple broke up for good, Simon appeared to address the fallout on "She Moves On," singing, "Then I fall to my knees/I shake a rattle at the skies/And I'm afraid that I'll be taken, abandoned, forsaken/In her cold coffee eyes." In "Wishful Drinking," Fisher confirmed the song was about her. Though the lyrics were hardly flattering, she nonetheless quipped, "If you can get Paul Simon to write a song about you, do it."

By all accounts, Fisher seemed more than happy to be immortalized in song. Shortly before her 2016 death, she told Rolling Stone, "I do like the songs he wrote about our relationship. Even when he's insulting me, I like it very much. If you're gonna be insulted, that's the way to go."

... however, she was offended by at least one of his songs

Carrie Fisher may have once insisted to Rolling Stone that she was flattered to be immortalized in song, no matter how badly she may have been portrayed. But there is at least one track Paul Simon wrote about their relationship that "The Women" star appeared to have taken umbrage with.

While appearing on "Late Show with David Letterman" back in 2009, Fisher discussed the songs that her ex-husband had written about their marriage. Unsurprisingly, the actor didn't take too kindly to the lyrics of one particular tune of Simon's called "Allergies." Taken from his 1983 album, "Hearts and Bones," the lyric that Fisher recited from memory to the late-night host and his audience stated, "My heart is allergic to the woman I love and it's changing the shape of my face." After the star had laughed off the insulting lines along with the audience, the posthumous Grammy Award winner dryly asked, "Is that flattery?"

As Fisher mused to Letterman, her musical legacy as a figure of heartache within some of Simon's most beloved tunes was a strange one to live with. "It is kind of trippy you know, 15 [or] 20 years down the line to turn on the radio and hear yourself complained about in song," she said. 

A Meryl Streep film was the beginning of the end

Although it took an ayahuasca trip for Carrie Fisher to finally realize that she and Paul Simon perhaps weren't destined to be together forever, the seeds for such an epiphany were actually sewn with something slightly less psychedelic — the shooting of a comedy-drama starring Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep.

In her 2008 memoir, "Wishful Drinking," Fisher admitted that her partnership with the singer-songwriter truly became irreparably damaged while she was overseeing the filming of 1990's "Postcards from the Edge," an adaptation of her novel by the same name. Given the huge stars who'd be bringing her BAFTA nominated screenplay to life, Fisher knew this was a set she couldn't miss out on being part of. "So I started flying out to LA from New York a lot," she wrote. "And this was really bad for my relationship with Paul, and pretty soon we both knew it was over. (He might have known it a little sooner than I did)."

Fisher wasn't the only name on the set of the film to recognize that the end of the romance was near. The director of "Postcards from the Edge" could also see it too. "Mike Nichols used to say we were two flowers, no gardener," she wrote. "No one was minding the relationship."

Carrie Fisher couldn't give Paul Simon peace

Carrie Fisher was always happy to tell all about her relationship with Paul Simon, and not only in her memoirs. She would also mine it for material in her fictional work, most notably in the 1990 novel "Surrender the Pink." Its male protagonist, Rudy Gendler, is a successful but aloof playwright that heroine Dinah Kaufman marries and then divorces in quick succession before getting back together and then finally breaking up. Sound familiar? In their review of the book, The Washington Post noted Simon's influence on the novel, with Sally Emerson writing, "If she has used some of his lines, they're pretty good ones."

The BAFTA Award winner would also be just as candid whenever the subject came up in an interview. Take the chat she had with Rolling Stone in 2016, for example, where she admitted, "I'm not good at relationships. I'm not cooperative enough. I couldn't give [Simon] the peace that he needed." Fisher added that the element of two celebrities dating each other threw another spice into the pot. "The issue of celebrity becomes neutralized and you can get onto your bigger problems. We both had very interesting fights," she said. "It's all a shame because he and I were very good together in the ways that we were good. But like I said, I don't supply someone with a really peaceful home."

Paul Simon paid tribute to his late ex-wife

As you'd expect for such a beloved Hollywood star, a whole host of star tributes were paid to Carrie Fisher following her untimely death from a heart attack at the age of 60, in 2016. George Lucas, who helped launch the star to global fame when he cast her in "Star Wars," described the actor as being a formidable force on and off the screen. "She was our great and powerful princess — feisty, wise and full of hope," he told People. Meanwhile, on Twitter, her former co-star Mark Hamill stated, "Carrie was one-of-a-kind who belonged to us all — whether she liked it or not." Sharon Horgan, who worked alongside Fisher in "Catastrophe," wrote of her co-star on Instagram, stating, "She was the most generous, fun, gifted, smart, kind, funny ... person I've ever met."

But what about her ex-husband? The day after the news emerged, Paul Simon took to Twitter (via Billboard) to express his condolences. He wrote, "Yesterday was a horrible day. Carrie was a special, wonderful girl. It's too soon." The singer-songwriter's tweet was one of the few times that he'd spoken about Fisher in any capacity since their split in 1990. In 2011, he told Rolling Stone that unlike his ex, he prefers to keep his personal life to himself. Regardless, he understood the need for her perspective. "She's a writer," he said. "She's entitled to her life and to write about it as she wishes."