The world will certainly remember 2016 as the dark year of Hollywood, a year when not only Hollywood but the whole world lost so many exceptionally talented people.
Just a day after the shocking news of the death of Carrie Fisher, the world learned with shock and sadness of the death of her mother, the brilliant actress Debbie Reynolds.
Reynolds’ passing followed a huge outpouring of grief caused by the death of her much-beloved daughter Carrie Fisher. Her son, Todd Fisher, has reported that “she missed her daughter and wanted to be with her.” Carrie died after suffering a heart attack on December 27th, and Debbie passed away the following day.
She was the number one lady in a succession of iconic Hollywood musicals and films throughout the 1950s and 1960s before giving birth to Carrie and Todd Fisher.
Her breakout role as Helen Kane in Three Little Words from 1950 instantly brought her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. The real rise to stardom followed just two years after, as she took the lead role of Kathy Selden in the cult classic Singin’ in the Rain in 1952. She was only 19 years old at the time.
Debbie soon became one of the most beloved leading ladies in Hollywood. She had other notable roles in movies such as The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953), Susan Slept Here (1954), Bundle of Joy (1956), The Catered Affair (1956), and Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), which also showed her talents in music. In 1959, she also released her first pop music album, entitled “Debbie.”
One of her greatest roles during the 1960s was the performance in the biopic film about Molly Brown, The Unsinkable Molly Brown. The film brought her first Academy Award nomination.
In 1973, she provided the voice for the eponymous spider in the animated classic film Charlotte’s Web. And in the later part of her career as an actress, she starred in Mother (1996) and In & Out (1997).
As of 1979, she became the owner of the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in Hollywood, which still operates today.
Reynolds married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955, at the peak of her fame. They had two children, Carrie and Todd Fisher. The couple divorced in 1959 when Fisher had an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. This created a major public scandal back in the day. Afterward, Debbie was married twice more.
In 1964, she would remark on the topic of love: “Life is both faith and love. Without faith, love is only one dimensional and incomplete. Faith helps you to overlook other people’s shortcomings and love them as they are. If you ask too much of any relationship, you can’t help but be disappointed. But if you ask nothing, you can’t be hurt or disappointed.”
She had a difficult relationship with her actress daughter, Carrie Fisher, and the two of them did not speak for many years. However, they eventually overcame their differences and became very close later in life.
In a very recent interview for US radio network NPR, Fisher would comment about her mother as being “an immensely powerful woman,” and that she admired her very much.
In 2015, it was Carrie who had the honor of presenting the award for lifetime achievement by the Screen Actors Guild to her mother. It was one of the many awards Debbie has been acknowledged with throughout her life.
In 1955, she was the 1955 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and her foot and handprints are preserved at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
In 2016, Debbie was also rewarded with a Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award from Chapman University, and in 2007 with an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Nevada, Reno, as a life-long contributor to the film studies program.
Farewell Debbie! You have certainly left an abundance of the work you did – you will most certainly be missed!