On Tuesday, the Hollywood community, and Star Wars fans across the globe where heartbroken over the passing of Carrie Fisher, who played the iconic role of Princess Leia. While the world lost an actress that entertained them on the silver and small screen, her mother, an Iconic entertainer herself in Debbie Reynolds lost a daughter, who passed away back from cardiac arrest. Just 24 hours later, the family suffered another tragic death.
On Wednesday, one of Hollywood’s first triple-threat as an actress, singer, and dancer in Academy Award-nominated actress Mary Frances “Debbie” Reynolds passed away at Cedar-Sinai hospital. She was 84 years old.
She is survived by her son, Todd Fisher, his half-sisters Joely and Tricia Leigh Fisher, her granddaughter Billie Lourd and Fisher’s long-time companion, her Bulldog Gary.
On Thursday morning’s edition of CNN Headline News’ “Morning Express with Robin Meade,” CNN correspondent Paul Vercammen said to fill in anchor Christi Paul that Ms. Reynolds, Fisher, Todd, and others had been working on the memorial service for her daughter Carrie, when all of sudden she complained about having shortness of breath.
A report from Variety said that Ms. Reynolds was taken to Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, CA by paramedics from her late daughter’s home in Beverly Hills, CA on Wednesday at about 1 p.m. afternoon Pacific Standard Time (PST) after suffering a stroke. She passed on at the hospital and is now in the afterlife, reuniting with her daughter, who at one time had the most tumultuous relationship, but became inseparable in recent years.
“My mother passed away a short time ago. She spoke to me this morning and said she missed Carrie… She’s with Carrie now,” Fisher said to Vercammen on Wednesday.
In Nov. of 1996, Ms. Reynolds said to Vercammen about motherhood that in her eyes her children Carrie and Todd can “do no wrong.”
Ms. Reynolds also said that she was a “slob of a mother,” who adored her children, but stepped in to give them guidance or giving her opinion to a situation when she felt they were on the verge of going over the cliff in their life.
“I really learned a lesson a long time ago and I think you must release them and let them go,” Reynolds said about parenting back to Vercammen back then. “Then if they like you, they’ll come back and visit with you. If they don’t, they don’t.”
In the 1950s and 1960s, Reynolds was a major star of the silver screen for Metro-Goldwin-Mayer Studios (MGM), staring in films like the 1952 classic “Singin’ In the Rain,” staring opposite Academy Award-winning actor Eugene Curran “Gene” Kelly and Golden Globe Winner Donald O’Connor and 1964’s “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” which she received an Oscar nomination for best actress.
Ms. Reynolds opportunity to win an Academy Award may not have been possible if Shirley MacLaine had not dropped out from playing the role of Molly Brown. Ms. Reynolds took that part in that musical comedy, playing a real-life woman who went from no wealth to major wealth, while surviving the sinking of the Titanic.
One famed line that Ms. Reynolds said in that movie when someone literally had their boot on her neck was, “And I might give out, but I’m won’t give in.”
In Jan. 2015, Reynolds received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and then in August was voted to present to Reynolds the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Nov. 14th Governors Awards from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. An unexpected long recovery from a surgery that happened during that time kept her from attending the ceremony.
Reynolds was able to combine the right connection of being a wholesome girl-next-door with a no-nonsense attitude to the roles that she played. That range went from playing super sweet in the film “Tammy,” to a more serious role in films like “The Rat Race,” and “How the West Was Won.”
While she was successful in front of the camera, Reynolds’ personal life away far from glamorous to say the least.
She was in the tabloids for being in the center of one of the biggest scandals of the decade when her then husband, singer Eddie Fisher left Reynolds for her best friend the late Elizabeth Taylor in 1958.
The scandal was so bad for Fisher publicly that it led to the cancellation of his television show.
Back in 2011 on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” just weeks before Ms. Taylor’s passing, Ms. Reynolds explained to the “Queen of Talk” that sometime in the late 1960s and 1970s they patched things up. Ms. Reynolds had sent a note to Ms. Taylor’s room onboard the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth and Taylor in return replied with a note of her own asking Ms. Reynolds to dinner and that is where the feud concluded. As Ms. Reynolds put it back then, “we had a wonderful evening with a lot of laughs.”
Ms. Reynolds was in the headlines once again for her divorce from her second husband, she manufacturer Harry Karl, which lasted for 13 years (1960-1973).
Ms. Reynolds claimed that Karl wiped her clean by gambling and left her $3 million in debt. She paid back all the money by appearing for 42 weeks a year at nightclubs in Las Vegas and Reno, NV.
The 1987 novel “Postcards from the Edge,” written by Fisher and became a film three years later was regarded as an embellishment on her mother’s tumultuous relationship back then.
Ms. Reynolds third marriage was to real estate developer Richard Hamlett, which lasted from 1984-96.
In 1997, Reynolds filed for personal bankruptcy after her Hotel and Casino was closed after years of financial problems.
She continued working as a guest on television shows like “The Golden Girls” and “Roseanne.” She even drew an Emmy nomination in 2000 for her recurring role as the Will’s mother, played by Eric McCormack on “Will and Grace.”
While fans knew her from her roles on television, nightclubs, and Broadway, to the Hollywood industry, Ms. Reynolds was best known for her philanthropic endeavors, which includes her over 60 years of work as the president of The Thalians, which she and other young actors founded back in 1955. It was an organization that raised awareness, provided treatment and support to those dealing and suffering with mental-health problems. Ms. Reynolds served as the president for more than 50 years starting in 1957 and she and actress Ruta Lee alternated the position of chairwoman of the board.
The organization donated millions of dollars to the Mental Health Center at Cedar-Sinai, where Ms. Reynolds passed. Though the center closed in 2012, funding still went to UCLA’s Operation Mend, which provides medical and psychological services to wounded veterans and their families.
She was also known for her energetic battles to preserve Hollywood heritage. Over the years, she amassed a collection of movie memorabilia, which consisted of thousands of pieces of costumes and props from MGM studios. Among those props and costumes was Marilyn Monroe’s “subway dress” from the movie “The Seven Year Itch;” a Charlie Chaplin bowler hat and a copy of the ruby red slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.”
“Well we’d all would like to have our favorite movie star live with us let’s say and be quiet and it’s just nostalgic for our heart,” Ms. Reynolds said in 2011 about keeping those Hollywood keepsakes, that unfortunately she was forced to auction off due to bankruptcy.
Ms. Reynolds was born in El, Paso, TX on Apr. 1, 1939. When she was eight-years-old, her carpenter father Raymond Francis “Ray” Reynolds and her mother Maxene “Minnie” Reynolds moved the family to Burbank, CA. At age 16 as a student at Burbank High, Ms. Reynolds, who went by the name “Frannie” as a child entered the 1948 Miss Burbank beauty contest and won, thanks to her singing imitation of Betty Hutton’s “My Rockin’ Horse Ran Away.
A Warner Bros. talent scout Solly Baiano spotted Ms. Reynolds and she was signed to $65-a-week contract and the president of the studio Jack L. Warner gave Ms. Reynolds the nickname “Debbie,” against her wishes.
She started at the bottom, doing grunt jobs like escorting visitors on tours or addressing envelopes. Ms. Reynolds did have a small part in 1948’s “June Bride,” which led to a flashier role as June Haver’s sister Maureen O’Grady in “The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady” two years later.
When Ms. Reynolds contract lapsed, MGM picked her up and gave a major raise of $300 a week, which back then was a major salary. She would spend the next 20 years working for MGM and become a fixture in Hollywood.
Her rise began with her lip-synching Helen Kane’s voice as the original Betty Boop in the musical “Three Little Words,” which then led to her using her own voice to put across “Ada Daba Honeymoon” in the romantic musical “Two Weeks with Love.”
The role that catapulted Ms. Reynolds’ career came at age 19 as the romantic lead in the previously mentioned musical film “Singin’ In the Rain,” where Kelly put her through some rigorous dance training, which Reynolds admitted she really needed.
“They took this virgin talent, this little thing, and expected her to hold her own with Gene and with Donald O’Connor, two of the best dancers in the business,” Reynolds, who was 20-years-old when opened said once in an interview.
It all paid off because back in 2007 “Singin’ In the Rain” was ranked No. 5 on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) list of the greatest American films and it was No. 1 on AFI’s 100 Years of Musical list.
That one movie was one of 40 films Ms. Reynolds stared in, along with the countless number of television shows she was a part of.
In the span of 48 hours, Hollywood said goodbye to two iconic, game-changing, standout on the silver and small screen mother and daughter in Mary Frances “Debbie” Reynolds and Carrie Frances Fisher.
In the case of Ms. Reynolds, we said goodbye to a lady where the signature song from “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” I Ain’t Done Yet,” became the unofficial anthem for the actress that survived all the turmoil in her life from her up and down relationship with her daughter Carrie; to her three divorces; to her rise in Hollywood and her philanthropic work that made the world better.
She was a throwback entertainer of so-called “Old Hollywood.” This was a time where she said people interacted with one another consistently and enjoyed the company of each other no matter where you stood in the eyes of the studio or to the public.
“Debbie was the last one of those icons,” gossip columnist, Ok! USA executive editor, talk-show host and author Rob Shutter said on Wednesday evening to WLNY FOX 5. “It was Elizabeth Taylor. Marilyn Monroe. This is the last lady that was a part of that world and now she’s gone.”
Information and quotations are courtesy of 12/28/16 Variety article via Entertainment section of www.msn.com by Carmel Dagan “Debbie Reynolds, ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ Star and Carrie Fisher’s Mother, Dies at 84; 12/29/16 12 a.m. edition of WLNY “FOX 5 News at 10,” with Steve Lacy, Dari Alexander and Nick Gregory, report from Linda Schmidt; 12/29/16 6 a.m. edition of CNN Headline News’ “Moring Express with Robin Meade,” host that day by Christi Paul and report from CNN correspondent Paul Vercammen; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Debbie-Reynolds; http://en.m.wikipedia.org.wiki/Carrie_Fisher; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singin%27_in_the_Rain; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_%26_Grace; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Kelly; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro-Goldwin-Mayer; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI’s_Greatest_Movie_Musicals and http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Shutter.