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Mary Frances Reynolds

Also Known As: "Frannie", "Aba Dabba", "Debbie Fisher", "Karl"
Birthdate:
Birthplace: El Paso, El Paso, Texas, United States
Death: December 28, 2016 (84)
Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, United States (stroke, possibly induced by stress of daughter's death the previous day)
Place of Burial: 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, 90068, United States
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Raymond Francis Reynolds; Maxine "Minnie" Reynolds and Private
Ex-wife of Harry Karl; Eddie Fisher and Richard Ronald Hamlett
Mother of Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher
Sister of Billy Reynolds
Half sister of Private

Occupation: Actor, singer, dancer, author, businessperson
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Debbie Reynolds

"'Mary Frances Reynolds"' (April 1, 1932 – December 28, 2016) known professionally as Debbie Reynolds was an American actor, singer, entertainer, businesswoman, film historian, humanitarian and a noted former collector of film memorabilia. Her breakout role was the portrayal of Helen Kane in the 1950 film Three Little Words, for which she was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. However, it was her first leading role in 1952 at age 19, as Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain, that set her on the path to fame. By the mid-1950s, she was a major star. Other notable successes include The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953), Susan Slept Here (1954), Bundle of Joy (1956 Golden Globe nomination), The Catered Affair (1956 National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress Winner), and Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), in which her rendering of the song "Tammy" reached number one on the music charts. In 1959, she released her first pop music album, entitled Debbie.

Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas, the second child of Maxine N. (Harmon) and Raymond Francis Reynolds, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Her film career began at MGM after she won a beauty contest at age 16 impersonating Betty Hutton. Reynolds wasn't a dancer until she was selected to be Gene Kelly's partner in Singin' in the Rain (1952). Not yet twenty, she was a quick study. Twelve years later, it seemed like she had been around forever. Most of her early film work was in MGM musicals, as perky, wholesome young women. She continued to use her dancing skills with stage work.

She was 31 when she gave an Academy Award-nominated performance in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). She survived losing first husband Eddie Fisher to Elizabeth Taylor following the tragic death of Mike Todd. Her second husband, shoe magnate Harry Karl, gambled away his fortune as well as hers. With her children as well as Karl's, she had to keep working and turned to the stage. She had her own casino in Las Vegas with a home for her collection of Hollywood memorabilia until its closure in 1997. She took the time to personally write a long letter that is on display in the Judy Garland museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota and to provide that museum with replicas of Garland's costumes. The originals are in her newly-opened museum in Hollywood.

Nearly all the money she makes is spent toward her goal of creating a Hollywood museum. Her collection numbers more than 3000 costumes and 46,000 square-feet worth of props and equipment.

With musician/actor Eddie Fisher, she was the mother of filmmaker Todd Fisher and actress Carrie Fisher. Debbie died of a stroke on December 28, 2016, one day after the death of her daughter Carrie. She was survived by her son and granddaughter, up-and-coming actress Billie Lourd.

She starred in How the West Was Won (1963) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), a biographical film about the famously boisterous Molly Brown. Her performance as Molly Brown earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. Her other notable films include The Singing Nun (1966), Divorce American Style (1967), What's the Matter with Helen? (1971), Mother (1996 Golden Globe nomination), and In & Out (1997). Reynolds was also a noted cabaret performer. In 1979 she founded the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in North Hollywood, which still operates today.

In 1969, she starred on television in The Debbie Reynolds Show, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. In 1973 Reynolds starred in a Broadway revival of the musical Irene and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. In 1969 she starred in her own television show The Debbie Reynolds Show, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. She was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance in A Gift of Love (1999) and an Emmy Award for playing Grace's mother Bobbi on Will & Grace. At the turn of the millennium, Reynolds reached a new younger generation with her role as Aggie Cromwell in Disney's Halloweentown series. In 1988 she released her autobiography titled Debbie: My Life. In 2013, she released an updated version titled Unsinkable: A Memoir.

She appeared as Dan's mother, fresh out of the mental ward, during an episode of the sitcom Roseanne (1988). When she later appeared on Roseanne Barr's talk show, she revealed that during the filming of that episode, while she and Roseanne were wrestling in the back yard, Roseanne, quite unknowingly, accidentally broke one of her ribs. In 1984, with friends like Shelley Winters and Terry Moore, she made a rather restrained exercise video for "women of a certain age". Won the 1948 Miss Burbank contest and was offered a screen test by Warner Bros. the day after her win. She initially entered the contest because everyone who entered received a silk scarf, blouse and free lunch.

She made her first appearance at the Hollywood Collectors & Celebrities Show on April 6th and 7th, 2002, at Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn in North Hollywood, California.

In 1975 she sold the Beverly Hills mansion she had lived in with Harry Karl. The house was reputed to be worth over $1,000,000. The buyer was Jim Randall, an industrialist who made aircraft rivets. When he married Marisa Berenson, the wedding was held in the redecorated home and his best man was his friend George Hamilton.

Considered herself a "movie-oholic" and has an extensive collection of memorabilia, with over 4,000 costumes from the silent screen period to the 1970s. She had been known to gather posters from her collection of 3,000 and drive to homes of actor pals for autographs. In the 1990s she turned her collection into a Las Vegas movie museum, but had to shut it down in 1997 because of financial problems. Recently she had looked into the possibility of opening up a hall of fame museum in Hollywood near Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

At one particularly low point in her career, she confessed to literally living in her car, a Cadillac.

Opened the Hollywood Motion Picture Collection near the Kodak Theatre. The collection, which was collected and preserved primarily by Reynolds herself, features over 3,000 costumes including Carmen Miranda's turbans, a pair of Judy Garland's ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz (1939), John Wayne's guns and Marilyn Monroe's windswept dress from The Seven Year Itch (1955). [April 2002]

Made her Broadway debut in 1973 in the revival of "Irene". Although the reviews for the show itself were mixed, hers were all raves and she wound up with a Tony Award nomination the following year for Best Actress in a Musical. The production ultimately ran some 20 months. In 1976, she appeared in a one-woman, short-run (10 days - 14 performances) review named "Debbie!" at the Minskoff Theatre. Her only other Broadway appearance to date came when she succeeded Lauren Bacall in "Woman of the Year" in 1983.

In one of her guest appearances on Will & Grace (1998), she entered a room humming a bit of "Good Morning", which was a song she sang in her most famous musical, Singin' in the Rain (1952).

Was a member of the International Order of Job's Daughters. Is a past honored Queen of Bethel No. 97, Burbank, California.

Had planned to go into the education field (teaching physical education) before she won the Miss Burbank contest. She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6654 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on January 13, 1997.

Was a Majority Member in California.

In 1969 she followed Doris Day and some of her contemporaries in launching a sitcom bearing her name. When the debut episode included an advertisement for cigarettes, a direct violation of one of her contractual stipulations, she made such a fuss about it that NBC ended up canceling the series. Is portrayed by Judith Jones in Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story (1995).

President of The Thalians, an organization for the treatment of mental health at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. Ruta Lee is the chairman. Both have been actively involved in building this celebrity run organization for over 30 years. Her first appearance on Will & Grace (1998) was in the episode entitled "The Unsinkable Mommy Adler", a play on the title of the movie The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). She played both title roles.

Although she wanted to be in show business, the Reynolds' family church, the Nazarene, forbade acting. However, Reynolds' father saw her talent and gave his support, seeing it as a means of paying her college costs. Her mother then gave her support knowing that there would be no "evil" going on in her movies. She mother knew her daughter had talent, but didn't understand why it was happening to her own daughter.

Was close friends with Hugh O'Brian. Serenaded O'Brien and his bride Virginia at their wedding on June 25, 2006. Her father entered her in a beauty pageant once when she was very young. She wore a bathing suit that her mother had mended that morning and a pair of her sister's high heels.

In 1964 she went into the hospital business, purchasing Oceanside Hospital in Oceanside, CA, for $1,000,000 with plans to turn it into a profitable business venture.

She dedicated the Holland-America Line cruise ship the MS Veendam. [January 1996]

Campaigned for the role of Doris Mann in Postcards from the Edge (1990), but Shirley MacLaine was cast instead. One of the few actresses to have danced with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly on screen. Other actresses who have done this include: Judy Garland, Cyd Charisse, Vera-Ellen, Rita Hayworth and Leslie Caron.

Played the French horn in high school and was a member of the Burbank Youth Symphony.

Secondary school studies in Burbank.

Was friends with Jane Powell; they shared the same birthday.

Was a Girl Scout.

In the process of relocating her museum to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. A new Hollywood Motion Picture Museum is being constructed there by Debbie and her children Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher. It opened in April 2005. [July 2004]

She reconciled with old nemesis Elizabeth Taylor to work on the made-for-TV movie These Old Broads (2001), written by Debbie's daughter, Carrie Fisher, with Taylor, Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins. Debbie and Taylor were friends until the late 1950s when Debbie's then-husband, Eddie Fisher, began having an affair with Liz, then left Debbie and married Taylor. When they began working on "These Old Broads" together, Taylor told Debbie, "I owe you a lot". Debbie said, "I just got a lump in my throat when she said that".

She had English, some Scottish, Scots-Irish (Northern Irish), and German, and distant French, ancestry. Her singing of "I Want To Be Loved By You", in the film Three Little Words (1950), was dubbed by Helen Kane.

Is one of 26 actresses to have received an Academy Award nomination for their performance in a musical; hers being The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). The others, in chronological order, are: Bessie Love (The Broadway Melody (1929)), Grace Moore (One Night of Love (1934)), Jean Hagen (Singin' in the Rain (1952)), Marjorie Rambeau (Torch Song (1953)), Dorothy Dandridge (Carmen Jones (1954)), Deborah Kerr (The King and I (1956)), Rita Moreno (West Side Story (1961)), Gladys Cooper (My Fair Lady (1964)), Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), and Victor Victoria (1982)), Peggy Wood (The Sound of Music (1965)), Carol Channing (Thoroughly Modern Millie (1967)), Kay Medford (Funny Girl (1968)), Barbra Streisand (Funny Girl (1968)), Liza Minnelli (Cabaret (1972)), Ronee Blakley (Nashville (1975)), Lily Tomlin (Nashville (1975)), Ann-Margret (Tommy (1975)), Lesley Ann Warren (Victor Victoria (1982)), Amy Irving (Yentl (1983)), Nicole Kidman (Moulin Rouge! (2001)), Queen Latifah (Chicago (2002)), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago (2002)), Renée Zellweger (Chicago (2002)), Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls (2006)), Penélope Cruz (Nine (2009)), Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables (2012)), and Meryl Streep (Into the Woods (2014)).

She died only one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. Became pregnant by her 2nd husband Harry Karl in 1961 and 1963; on both occasions she suffered stillbirths. Her personal favorite film of hers was The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). Was Elizabeth Taylor's Matron of Honor at Taylor's wedding to Mike Todd. Graduated from Burbank High School in Burbank, California in 1950; Vic Tayback graduated from Burbank High School in 1949. She was awarded the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award in 2014. Daughter of Raymond (1903-1986), born in the state of Texas, and Maxene (née Harman) Reynolds (1912-1999), born in the state of Oklahoma. Maternal granddaughter of Owen (1885-1951), born in the state of Kansas, and Maxie (née Dykeman) Harman (1889-1976), born in the state of Missouri. Ironically, at the time of her own death, she was scheduled to attend Zsa Zsa Gabor's funeral. When Reynolds was going through her highly publicized divorce from Eddie Fisher, news crews were camped out around the clock on Reynolds' front lawn. To ingratiate herself to reporters (and engender public sympathy for her role as the "wronged wife") Reynolds would regularly grant interviews in front of the house, often with diaper pins on her blouse and her two toddler aged children, Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher, in her arms. In the movie version of her daughter Carrie Fisher's autobiographical novel Postcards from three Edge, the character thought to be based on Debbie Reynolds was played by Shirley MacLaine. As a result of the publicity (and sympathy) generated by her humiliating divorce from Eddie Fisher (who abandoned her to marry her best friend Elizabeth Taylor) Reynolds ranked #5 among the Top Ten Box Office Stars list for both 1959 and 1960. Appeared in one film nominated for Best Picture Academy Award: How the West Was Won (1962). On the British game show QI, after Host Stephen Fry confirmed with Carrie Fisher that on the set of Singing in the Rain, Gene Kelly rehearsed Debbie until her feet bled. Fisher then revealed "She also said that Gene Kelly french kissed her and she vomited.". Accomplished musician on french horn, bass and violin and was a fashion designer in her spare time. She has appeared in two films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: Singin' in the Rain (1952) and How the West Was Won (1962). In the film 'Singing in the Rain' Debbie Reynolds was dubbing Jean Hagen but she herself was dubbed by Betty Noye.

Reynolds was a noted businesswoman, having operated her own hotel in Las Vegas. She was also a collector of film memorabilia, beginning with the landmark 1970 MGM auction. She was the former president of The Thalians, an organization dedicated to mental health causes. Reynolds continued to perform successfully on stage, television, and film into her eighties. In January 2015, Reynolds received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. In August 2015, it was announced Reynolds would be the recipient of the 2016 Academy Awards Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. In 2016, a documentary about her life was released titled Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

On December 28, 2016, one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher, Reynolds was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, in fair-to-serious condition after an unspecified medical emergency at her son's home. Later that afternoon, Reynolds died in the hospital.


Reynolds was born on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas, to Maxene "Minnie" Harman and Raymond Francis "Ray" Reynolds, a carpenter who worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad.[10] She was of Scotch-Irish and English ancestry[11] and was raised in a strict Nazarene church.[12] She had a brother two years her senior.[13] Reynolds was a Girl Scout, once saying that she wanted to die as the world's oldest living Girl Scout.[14] Reynolds was also a member of The International Order of Job's Daughters, now called Job's Daughters International.[15]

Her mother took in laundry for income, while they lived in a shack on Magnolia Street in El Paso.[13] "We may have been poor," she said in a 1963 interview, "but we always had something to eat, even if Dad had to go out on the desert and shoot jackrabbits." One of the advantages of having been poor is that you learn to appreciate good fortune and the value of a dollar, and poverty holds no fear for you because you know you've gone through it and you can do it again... But we were always a happy family and a religious one. And I'm trying to inculcate in my children the same sense of values, the same tone that my mother gave to me.[13]

Her family moved to Burbank, California in 1939.[16] When Reynolds was a sixteen-year-old student at Burbank High School in 1948, she won the Miss Burbank beauty contest.[16] Soon after, she had a contract with Warner Bros[16] and acquired the nickname "Debbie" via Jack L. Warner.[17]

One of her closest high school friends said that she rarely dated during her teenage years in Burbank. They never found her attractive in school. She was cute, but sort of tomboyish, and her family never had any money to speak of. She never dressed well or drove a car. And, I think, during all the years in school, she was invited to only one dance.[13]

Reynolds agreed, saying that "when I started, I didn't even know how to dress. I wore dungarees and a shirt. I had no money, no taste and no training."[18] Her friend adds: I say this in all sincerity. Debbie can serve as an inspiration to all young American womanhood. She came up the hard way, and she has a realistic sense of values based on faith, love, work and money. Life has been kind to her because she has been kind to life. She's a young woman with a conscience, which is something rare in Hollywood actresses. She also has a refreshing sense of honesty.[13]

Reynolds was first discovered by talent scouts from Warner Bros. and MGM who were at the 1948 Miss Burbank contest. Both companies wanted her to sign up with their studio and had to flip a coin to see which one got her. Warner won the coin toss, and she was with the studio for two years.[19] When Warner Brothers stopped producing musicals, she moved to MGM.

With MGM, Reynolds regularly appeared in movie musicals during the 1950s and had several hit records during the period. Her song "Aba Daba Honeymoon" (featured in the film Two Weeks with Love (1950) and sung as a duet with co-star Carleton Carpenter) was the first soundtrack recording to become a top-of-the-chart gold record, reaching number three on the Billboard charts.[20]

Her performance in the film greatly impressed the studio, which then gave her a co-starring role in what would become her highest-profile film, Singin' in the Rain (1952), a satire on movie making in Hollywood during the transition from silent to sound pictures.[19] It co-starred Gene Kelly, whom she called a "great dancer and cinematic genius," adding, "He made me a star. I was 18 and he taught me how to dance and how to work hard and be dedicated."[21] In 1956, she appeared in Bundle of Joy with her then-husband, Eddie Fisher.[22]

Her starring role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) led to a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.[23] Reynolds noted that she initially had issues with its director, Charles Walters. "He didn't want me," she said. "He wanted Shirley MacLaine," who at the time was unable to take the role. "He said 'You are totally wrong for the part." But six weeks into production, he reversed his opinion. "He came to me and said, "I have to admit that I was wrong. You are playing the role really well. I'm pleased."[24] Reynolds also played in Goodbye Charlie, a 1964 comedy film about a callous womanizer who gets his just reward. It was adapted from George Axelrod's play Goodbye, Charlie and also starred Tony Curtis and Pat Boone.

She next portrayed Jeanine Deckers in The Singing Nun (1966). In what Reynolds once called the "stupidest mistake of my entire career",[25] she made headlines in 1970 after instigating a fight with the NBC television network over cigarette advertising on her weekly television show. Although she was television's highest paid female performer at the time, she quit the show for breaking its contract:[25]

I was shocked to discover that the initial commercial aired during the premiere of my new series was devoted to a nationally advertised brand of cigarette (Pall Mall). I fully outlined my personal feelings concerning cigarette advertising ... that I will not be a party to such commercials which I consider directly opposed to health and well-being.[26]

When NBC explained to Reynolds that banning cigarette commercials from her show would be impossible, she kept her resolve. The show drew mixed reviews, but according to NBC, it captured about 42 percent of the nation's viewing audience. She said later she was especially concerned about the commercials because of the number of children watching the show.[27] She did quit doing the show after about a year, which she said had cost her about $2 million of lost income: "Maybe I was a fool to quit the show, but at least I was an honest fool. I'm not a phony or pretender. With me it wasn't a question of money but integrity. I'm the one who has to live with myself."[28] The dispute would have been rendered moot and in Reynolds' favor anyway had she not resigned; by 1971, the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act (which had been passed into law before she left the show) would ban all radio and television advertising for tobacco products.

Reynolds played the title role in the Hanna-Barbera animated musical Charlotte's Web, in which she originated the song "Mother Earth and Father Time".[29] Reynolds continued to make other appearances in film and television. She played Helen Chappel Hackett's mother, Deedee Chappel, on an episode of Wings titled, "If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother," which originally aired on November 22, 1994.[30]

From 1999 to 2006, she played Grace Adler's theatrical mother, Bobbi Adler, on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace,[31] which earned Reynolds her only Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2000.[32] She played a recurring role in the Disney Channel Original Movie Halloweentown film series as Aggie Cromwell. Reynolds made a guest appearance as a presenter at the 69th Academy Awards in 1997.[33]

In 2000, Reynolds took up a recurring voice role on the children's television program Rugrats, playing the grandmother of two of the characters. In 2001, she co-starred with Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley MacLaine in These Old Broads, a television movie written for her by her daughter, Carrie Fisher.[34] She had a cameo role as herself in the 2004 film Connie and Carla. In 2013, she appeared in Behind the Candelabra, as the mother of Liberace.[35]

The actress appears with her daughter in Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, a 2016 documentary about the very close relationship between the two.[36] It premiered at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The television premiere was January 7, 2017, on HBO.[7] According to USA Today, the film is "an intimate portrait of Hollywood royalty ... [it] loosely chronicles their lives through interviews, photos, footage and vintage home movies... It culminates in a moving scene, just as Reynolds is preparing to receive the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, which Fisher presented to her mom."[37]

Her recording of the song "Tammy" (1957; from Tammy and the Bachelor), earned her a gold record,[38] and was the best-selling single by a female vocalist in 1957. It was number one for five weeks on the Billboard pop charts. In the movie (the first of the Tammy film series), she co-starred with Leslie Nielsen.[39]

Reynolds also scored two other top-25 Billboard hits with "A Very Special Love" (#20 in January 1958) and "Am I That Easy to Forget" (#25 in March 1960)—a pop-music version of a country-music hit made famous by Carl Belew (in 1959), Skeeter Davis (in 1960), and several years later by singer Engelbert Humperdinck.[40]

In 1991, she released an album titled The Best of Debbie Reynolds.[41]

For ten years, she headlined for about three months a year in Las Vegas's Riviera Hotel. She enjoyed live shows even though that type of performing "was extremely strenuous," she said.

With a performing schedule of two shows a night, seven nights a week, it's probably the toughest kind of show business. But in my opinion, the most rewarding. I like the feeling of being able to change stage bits and business when I want. You can't do that in motion pictures or TV.[42]

As part of her nightclub act, Reynolds was noted for doing impressions of celebrities such as Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mae West, Barbra Streisand, Phyllis Diller, and Bette Davis. Her impersonation of Davis was inspired following their co-starring roles in the 1956 film, The Catered Affair.[28] Reynolds had started doing stage impersonations as a teenager; her impersonation of Betty Hutton was performed as a singing number during the Miss Burbank contest in 1948.[28]

Reynolds' last album was a Christmas record with Donald O'Connor entitled Chrissy the Christmas Mouse arranged and conducted by Angelo DiPippo.[43]

Reynolds was also a French horn player. Gene Kelly, reflecting on Reynolds's sudden fame recalled “There were times when Debbie was more interested in playing the French horn somewhere in the San Fernando Valley or attending a Girl Scout meeting....She didn’t realise she was a movie star all of a sudden.”[44]

With limited film and television opportunities coming her way, Reynolds accepted an opportunity to make her Broadway debut.[45] She starred in the 1973 revival of Irene, a musical first produced 60 years before.[45] When asked why she waited so long to appear in a Broadway play, she explained:

Primarily because I had two children growing up. I could make movies and recordings and plays in nearby Las Vegas and handle a television series without being away from them. Now, they are well on the way to being adults. Also, there was the matter of being offered a show that I felt might be right for me ... I felt that Irene was it and now was the time.[46]

Reynolds and her daughter Carrie both made their Broadway debut in the play.[46] Per reports, the production broke records for the highest weekly gross of any musical.[45] For that production, she received a Tony nomination. Reynolds also starred in a self-titled Broadway revue, Debbie, in 1976.[47] She toured with Harve Presnell in Annie Get Your Gun,[48] then wrapped up the Broadway run of Woman of the Year in 1983.[49] In the late 1980s Reynolds repeated her role as Molly Brown in the stage version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, first opposite Presnell (repeating his original Broadway and movie role)[48] and later with Ron Raines.[50]

Best Foot Forward (1953) (Dallas State Fair)[51] Irene (1973) (Broadway and US national tour)[52] Debbie (1976) (Broadway)[52] Annie Get Your Gun (1977) (San Francisco and Los Angeles) Woman of the Year (1982) (Broadway) (replacement for Lauren Bacall)[52] The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1989) (US national tour) Irene (2008) Perth Western Australia In 2010, she appeared in her own West End show Debbie Reynolds: Alive and Fabulous.[53]

Film history preservation Reynolds amassed a large collection of movie memorabilia, beginning with items from the landmark 1970 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer auction, and she displayed them, first in a museum at her Las Vegas hotel and casino during the 1990s[54] and later in a museum close to the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. On several occasions, she auctioned off items from the collection.

The museum was to relocate to be the centerpiece of the Belle Island Village tourist attraction in the resort city of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, but the developer went bankrupt.[55][56] The museum filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy[57] in June 2009. The most valuable asset of the museum was Reynolds' collection.[55] Todd Fisher, Reynolds' son, announced that his mother was "heartbroken" to have to auction off the collection.[55] It was valued at $10.79 million in the bankruptcy filing.[56] The Los Angeles auction firm Profiles in History was given the responsibility of conducting a series of auctions.[58] Among the "more than 3500 costumes, 20,000 photographs, and thousands of movie posters, costume sketches, and props" included in the sales were Charlie Chaplin's bowler hat and Marilyn Monroe's white "subway dress", whose skirt is lifted up by the breeze from a passing subway train in the film The Seven Year Itch (1955).[58] The dress sold for $4.6 million in 2011;[59] the final auction was held in May 2014.[60]

Business ventures In 1979, Reynolds opened her own dance studio in North Hollywood. In 1983 she released an exercise video, Do It Debbie's Way!.[61] She purchased the Clarion Hotel and Casino, a hotel and casino in Las Vegas, in 1992. She renamed it the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel. It was not a success. In 1997, Reynolds was forced to declare bankruptcy.[62] In June 2010, she replaced Ivana Trump answering reader queries for the weekly paper Globe.[63]

Reynolds was married three times. Her first marriage was to singer Eddie Fisher in 1955.[64] They became the parents of Carrie (1956–2016) and Todd Fisher (1958). The couple divorced in 1959 when it was revealed shortly after the death of Elizabeth Taylor's husband Mike Todd that Fisher had been having an affair with her; Taylor and Reynolds were good friends at the time. The Eddie Fisher – Elizabeth Taylor affair was a great public scandal which led to the cancellation of Eddie Fisher's television show.[65]

In 2011, Reynolds was on The Oprah Winfrey Show just weeks before Elizabeth Taylor's death. She explained that she and Taylor happened to be traveling at the same time on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth some time in the late 1960s or early 1970s when they reconciled.[66] Reynolds sent a note to Taylor's room, and Taylor sent a note in reply asking to have dinner with Reynolds and end their feud. As Reynolds described it, "we had a wonderful evening with a lot of laughs."[67] In 1972, she noted the bright side of the divorce and her remarriage:

Now in retrospect, though it was not my will, I think it probably was the best thing that ever happened to me. He did give me two great children and for that I will ever be grateful. Our door is always open to him. I believe in peaceful coexistence and being friends with the father of your children.[28]

Reynolds' second marriage, to millionaire businessman Harry Karl, lasted from 1960 to 1973.[66] For a period during the 1960s, she stopped working at the studio on Friday afternoons to attend Girl Scout meetings, since she was the leader of the Girl Scout Troop of which her 13-year-old daughter Carrie and her stepdaughter Tina Karl, also 13, were members.[68] Reynolds later found herself in financial difficulty because of Karl's gambling and bad investments.[1] Reynolds' third marriage was to real estate developer Richard Hamlett from 1984 to 1996.

In 2011, Reynolds stepped down after 56 years of involvement in The Thalians,[69] a charitable organization devoted to children and adults with mental health issues.

Reynolds was hospitalized in October 2012 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles due to an adverse reaction to medication. She canceled appearances and concert engagements for the next three months.[70]

On December 23, 2016, Reynolds's daughter—actress and writer Carrie Fisher—suffered a medical emergency on a transatlantic flight from London to Los Angeles, and died on December 27 at the age of 60.[71] The following day, December 28, Reynolds was taken by ambulance to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, after suffering a "severe stroke," according to her son, Todd Fisher.[72] Later that afternoon, Reynolds was pronounced dead in the hospital; she was 84 years old.[73][74][75] On January 9, 2017, her cause of death was determined to be intracerebral hemorrhage, with hypertension a contributing factor.[76]

Todd later said that Reynolds had been seriously affected by her daughter's death, and that her grief was partially responsible for her stroke, noting that his mother had stated "I want to be with Carrie" shortly before she died.[77][78][79] During an interview for the December 30, 2016 airing of the ABC-TV program 20/20, Todd elaborated on this, saying that his mother had joined his sister in death because Reynolds "didn't want to leave Carrie and did not want her to be alone."[80] He added, that "she didn't die of a broken heart" as some news reports had implied, but rather "just left to be with Carrie."[81]

Reynolds was entombed while Fisher was cremated.[citation needed] A portion of Fisher's ashes were laid to rest beside Reynolds' crypt at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, during a larger joint memorial service held on March 25,[82][83] while the remainder of Carrie's ashes are held in a giant, novelty Prozac pill.[84]

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Debbie Reynolds among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.[85]

Reynolds was the 1955 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year.[86] Her foot and handprints are preserved at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 6654 Hollywood Boulevard, for live performance and a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars dedicated to her.[87] In keeping with the celebrity tradition of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival of Winchester, Virginia, Reynolds was honored as the Grand Marshal of the 2011 ABF that took place from April 26 to May 1, 2011.[88]

On November 4, 2006, Reynolds received the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Chapman University (Orange, California).[89][90] On May 17, 2007, she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Nevada, Reno, where she had contributed for many years to the film studies program.[91]

Actress. Perky and multitalented, she experienced success on stage, in films and on television. She will perhaps be remembered for playing ‘Kathy Selden’ opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in the classic musical “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952). Born Mary Francis Reynolds, her father worked as a railroad carpenter for Southern Pacific, her mother washed laundry to provide additional income. She moved with her family to Southern California during her mid teens. After winning the ‘Miss Burbank’ beauty contest, she was spotted by Hollywood talent scouts. This led to her motion picture debut in the Warner Brothers film “June Bride” (1948) which was followed with the a string of musicals including “The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady” (1950) and “Three Little Words” (1950). Further films include “The Affairs of Doby Gillis” (1953), “The Tender Trap” (1955, opposite Frank Sinatra), “Tammy and the Bachelor” (1957), “It Started with a Kiss” (1959) and “The Rat Race” (1960, opposite Tony Curtis). In 1955 (divorced in 1959), she married singer Eddie Fisher and their marriage produced their children, actress Carrie Fisher and TV director Todd Fisher. She received an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of the title role in the film “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1964) and had additional memorable credits with “The Singing Nun” (1966), “Divorce, American Style” (1967) and “How Sweet It Is” (1968). Her own TV series “The Debbie Reynolds Show” ran for one season (1969 to 1970). In 1973, she made her Broadway debut in the production “Irene” for which she received a Tony Award nomination. The play was also of note for costarring her daughter Carrie. She will also be remembered for providing the voice of ‘Charlotte’ in the animated children’s film “Charlotte’s Web” (1973). During the course of her career, she earned five Golden Globe nominations and one Emmy Award nomination. In 1997 she received a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame and in 2016, she was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. After divorcing Eddie Fisher, she married two more time, however both marriages also ended in divorce. In 1985, she recorded two exercise videotapes and in 1988, she published her autobiography “Debbie: My Life”. Her relationship with her daughter Carrie Fisher was often stormy and was the basis for Fisher’s novel “Postcards from the Edge” (1987). A film adaptation of the same title for which starred Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine was made in 1990. Debbie Reynolds died from a stroke she suffered one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher.

Bio by: C.S.


Sources

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Debbie Reynolds's Timeline

1932
April 1, 1932
El Paso, El Paso, Texas, United States

Mary Frances Reynolds Texas, Birth Certificates, 1903-1932

Name Mary Frances Reynolds
Birth Date 1 Apr 1932
Gender Female
Birth Place El Paso, El Paso, Texas, USA
Father Raymond Francis Reynolds
Father Birth Place Texas
Mother Maxine Harmon
Mother Birth Place Okla
Mother Residence 3117 N. Piedras

1956
October 21, 1956
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States
1958
February 24, 1958
Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California, United States