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Debbie Reynolds's Death
- Debbie Reynolds
- April 1, 1932
- December 28, 2016
The life and death of Debbie Reynolds:
She had a long and illustrious career as a dramatic and singing Hollywood actress, complete with the personal ups and downs that kind of life brings. However, her end was truly tragic, when she died suddenly only one day after the death of her actress daughter, Carrie Fisher.
Mary Frances Reynolds was a Depression-era child, born in El Paso, Texas. Her father Raymond worked as a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad and her mother was the former Maxine Harmon. She was of English and Scottish-Irish extraction and was raised in the Nazarene church, a Christian Evangelical denomination.
Mary Frances had an older brother and was a Girl Scout. The family was poor but she said they always had something to eat, even if her father had to go out and shoot a rabbit.
She later said growing up poor helps you to appreciate good fortune later in life.
In 1939, the family moved to Burbank, California and she won a local beauty contest while attending high school in 1948.
Mary soon landed a contract with Warner Brothers and with it, her new first name: Debbie.
Her breakout role was in 1950’s “Three Little Words” and she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer.
Her 1950’s roles were in musicals and she had a top ten hit with the song “Aba Daba Honeymoon” in 1951.
And in 1952, at age 19, she got her first leading role as Kathy Selden in” Singin’ in the Rain”, co-starring Gene Kelly and Donald O’Conner.
Over the years, Debbie appeared in dozens of movies, including “The Tender Trap”, “How the West was Won”, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, “The Singing Nun”, “The Bodyguard”, and “Behind the Candelabra”, among others.
Her recording of “Tammy” in 1957 from “Tammy and the Bachelor” earned Debbie a gold record.
She also headlined at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas for a decade and even bought a local hotel-casino there, although it was not a financial success.
She married three times, the first to singer Eddie Fisher in 1955. They had two children, daughter Carrie and son Todd.
But they divorced in 1959 in a big Hollywood scandal when Eddie left Debbie for the widow of his best friend Mike Todd, who’d been killed in a plane crash.
The new woman was Debbie’s friend, Elizabeth Taylor.
After a decade-long feud, Debbie and Liz, who left Fisher for actor Richard Burton, reconciled.
Reynolds next married businessman Harry Karl, and that led to financial difficulties for her because of his bad investments and gambling. Her third marriage was to Richard Hamlett, a real estate developer, from 1984 to 1996.
In a huge tragedy, Debbie’s daughter Carrie…
suffered a massive heart attack on December 23, 2016 in the final minutes of an airline flight from London to Los Angeles and despite four days of efforts to save her, Carrie died.
The very next day, Debbie died of an apparent stroke. Her surviving son Todd said the emotional stress from losing her daughter was behind his mother’s death.
Debbie Reynolds is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
And was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Screen Actors Guild in 2015 and daughter Carrie was there, introducing her.
In a huge tragedy, Carrie…
…suffered a massive heart attack on December 23, 2016 in the final minutes of an airline flight from London to Los Angeles and despite four days of efforts to save her, Carrie died.
The very next day, Debbie died of an apparent stroke.
Her surviving son Todd said the emotional stress from losing her daughter was behind his mother’s death and told the media Debbie had said she wanted to be with Carrie.
On the first Thursday of the New Year, there was a memorial service for mother and daughter inside their gated compound in Coldwater Canyon. Many top Hollywood names attended.
Then, the next day, Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher were buried side by side in the Hollywood Hills cemetery.
Carrie’s ashes were placed in a porcelain urn in the shape of an out-sized anti-depressant.
That Friday night, the theatre lights were dimmed on Broadway for the two.
And HBO moved up the date of a documentary on mother and daughter, “Bright Lights Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds”…
…to the Saturday night after their internment.