'Star Wars' actress Carrie Fisher has paid tribute to her former stepmother Elizabeth Taylor, following her death yesterday at the age of 79.

The star, who died as a result of congestive heart failure, was stepmother to the actress and her brother Todd when married to their father, singer Eddie Fisher.

In a statement, Fisher said: "A woman who rarely did things in half measure, Elizabeth lived her life to the fullest, whether by loving to the fullest or while also giving us some of the most memorable performances ever on film.

"A devoted mother many times over and even very briefly a step mother to my brother Todd and myself, loyal to the lifelong friends surrounding her - even with all this she found time to become one of the earliest champions for those living with HIV."

Describing Taylor as "a remarkable woman," she added: "If my father had to divorce my mother for anyone - I'm so grateful that it was Elizabeth."

Other stars pay tribute to Elizabeth Taylor here

Fisher's mother Debbie Reynolds, who was married to Eddie Fisher between 1955 and 1959 before he left her to marry Elizabeth, also paid tribute to the actress yesterday.

Reynolds, 78 said: "God bless her, she's on to a better place, I'm happy that she's out of her pain because she was in a lot of pain.

"This was a blessing in disguise, you know, she's in heaven and she's in a heavenly place and she's happy."

Reynolds remembered Taylor as "a young great star" who loved her charity work, good-looking men and dirty jokes.

Look at her life in pictures here

The two were friends since they were 17, said Reynolds. "We went to school together at MGM studios. Elizabeth was already a young great star, and I came over to the studio when I was really young and we went to school together, so we became little girls together and had a lot of fun together, and I was at her wedding with Mike Todd, and went through all her different turbulent times and I even gave her my husband (Eddie Fisher) for goodness sake."

Reynolds recalled talking to Taylor two weeks ago. "I said, 'Getting old is really (expletive).'

"And she said, 'It certainly is. It certainly is Debbie, this is really tough.' I said, 'Well, you just hang in there now Elizabeth, and she said, 'I'm really trying, I'm really trying.'"