Debbie Reynolds Dead at 84: A Life Well Lived

A young Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds an Oscar nominated star of the ’50’s and 60’s has died one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died from a heart attack aged 60. Todd Fisher informed the press after Ms. Reynolds was admitted to hospital earlier on Wednesday, 28 December with breathing problems.

Reynolds, who started off her career as a major film star by impersonating  Betty Hutton, became America’s sweetheart after playing roles like Tammy, in Tammy and the Bachelor (which spawned a million selling single for Debbie Reynolds; “Tammy’s in Love”).

It was after appearing in the  1952 Gene Kelly, Donald O’Connor film Singin’ in the Rain that Reynolds’ career really took off. She went on to make a number of hit films, including  The Unsinkable Molly Brown  before she turned to television.

Ms. Reynolds did not completely leave the cinema however. She voiced the spider in Charlotte’s Web in 1973. She worked steadily in television and did more voice-over work including the popular animated kid’s show, The Rugrats. (She voiced Lulu Pickles.)

Mary Frances Reynolds was born on April Fools Day in El Paso Texas in 1932. Throughout her long life and career, she married three times, one husband; her third,  squandered her money away and left her $3 million in debt. A massive amount that she paid off by performing at Las Vegas and Reno Nevada.

Debbie was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Molly Brown in the 1964 film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” At the end of her career, she accrued 17 awards and a further 36 nominations. One of the awards received was the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in  2016.

Reynolds’ first husband, Eddie Fisher; father to Carrie and Todd, left her for Elizabeth Taylor in 1958 in a move that shocked the world. Carrie Fisher a product of that union died on 27 December age 60 after a heart attack.

Social media, already reeling from the death of an icon, is now trending on Twitter with #RIP Debbie and Carrie. The world has lost a legend and her iconic daughter. Both women who lived life to the fullest and were, in their own way, bigger than life itself.

Ironically, it was on a Debbie Reynolds TV movie that Carrie got her start in the business; Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children.  Both women were strong, witty and not backward in coming forward. The two shared a sometimes tempestuous relationship which Carrie wrote about in her semi-autobiographical novel Postcards From the Edge.

Todd Fisher, Debbie’s son, reported his mother’s death on Wednesday, 28 December.  Ms. Reynolds had been rushed to the hospital earlier in the day for breathing problems and suspected stroke.

Mr. Fisher said, in a statement, that his mother wanted to be with Carrie. Ms Reynolds is survived by her granddaughter Billie Lourd and her son Todd, a TV commercial director.

Debbie Reynolds has died suddenly after leading a life “well lived.” She will be remembered for a long and varied career that, like the Unsinkable Molly Brown, could not be held back or down. She was also known to a legion of “Star Wars” fans as Carrie Fisher‘s mother.

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Author: Michael Knox-Smith

World traveler, writer, actor, journalist. Cinephile who reviews films, television, books and interviews professionals in the industry. Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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