Iconic actress Debbie Reynolds dies at 84


Iconic actress Debbie Reynolds died Wednesday at the age of 84, one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, has died after suffering heart failure, her son Todd Fisher confirmed.

“And now she is with Carrie, and we are all heartbroken,” Fisher said of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where he and his mother by ambulance earlier Wednesday.

He said that the stress of his sister’s death is “too much” for Reynolds.

The entertainment website TMZ, without the name of all sources, says Reynolds may have had a possible stroke. They also said that they had at her son Todd’s Beverly Hills home to discuss the funeral plans for Carrie when a call was made to 911.

Reynolds enjoyed the very heights of show business success and even in the depths of personal tragedy and betrayal. She lost a husband of Elizabeth Taylor and two other men ransacked her for millions. Fisher, who found lasting fame as Princess Leia in “Star Wars” and effort for a large part of her life with drug addiction and mental problems, died on Tuesday after getting sick on a plane and is in the hospital.


In her television career, Reynolds was a superstar early in life. After two small roles at Warner Bros. and three supporting roles at MGM studio-boss Louis B. Mayer cast her in “Singin’ in the Rain,” in spite of Kelly’s objections. She was 19, with little dance experience, and she would appear with two of the screen’s greatest dancers, Donald O’connor and Kelly, who also co-directed.

“Gene Kelly was hard for me, but I think he had to be,” Reynolds, who has more than her own in the film, said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “I had to learn everything in three to six months. Donald O’connor had been dancing since he was three months old, Gene Kelly since he was 2 years old. … I think that Gene knew that I had to be challenged.”

“The Unsinkable Molly Brown” was based on the life of a Colorado woman who rose from poverty to wealth, and triumphed over the tragedy, including the sinking of the Titanic.

The 1964 Meredith Willson musical, with Molly’s rebellious song “I Ain’t Down Yet,” brought Reynolds her only Academy Award nomination. She also received a Tony nomination in 1973 when she starred on Broadway in the revival of “Irene”, in which her daughter also.

After her transition from star to star, Reynolds became immensely popular with teenage girls, and even more when in 1955 she married Eddie Fisher, the singer whose fans were equally dedicated.

The couple made a film together, “Bundle of Joy,” and that was the mirror 1956 birth of Carrie. The Fishermen had also a son, Todd, named after Eddie’s good friend and Taylor’s husband, showman Mike Todd.

During this period, Reynolds had a Number 1 hit in the pop charts in 1957 with “Tammy” the Oscar-nominated song from her movie “Tammy and the Bachelor.” But the Cinderella story ended after Mike Todd died in a 1958 plane crash. Fisher comforted the widow, and soon he announced that he left his wife and two children to marry Taylor.

The celebrity world seemed to lose his mind. Taylor was raided as a man stealer, Fisher as a deserter of his family. Reynolds won sympathy as the innocent victim, a role highlighted when she appeared before news cameras with diaper pins on her blouse. A cover headline in Photoplay magazine in the autumn of 1958 blared: “a Smile through her tears, Debbie says: I’m still very much in love with Eddie.”

Fisher’s singing career never recovered, but Taylor, who left him for Richard Burton in 1962, remained a top star. And Reynolds ‘ film career flourished. She starred with Glenn Ford in “Gazebo” Tony Curtis in “The Rat Race,” Fred Astaire in “The Pleasure of His Company,” Andy Griffith in “The Second Time” with the all-star cast in “How the West Was Won” and Ricardo Montalban in “The Singing Nun.”

She also provided the voice of Charlotte, a spider in the 1973 animated “Charlotte’s Web.”

But in the course of the years, her marital woes continued.

In 1960, Reynolds married shoe magnate Harry Karl. The marriage ended in a disaster when she discovers that Karl, a compulsive gambler, was broken of her assets and her deep in debt. She divorced him in 1973, and toured tirelessly with her singing and dance show to pay off the creditors.

Reynolds’ third marriage, to Virginia businessman Richard Hamlett in 1984, proved just as disastrous. In 1992, against friends’ advice, she paid $10 million to buy and convert the blurred, the Paddlewheel Hotel in Las Vegas in the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino. She performed each evening and guided tours of its film memorabilia that she had collected since MGM auctioned off its artefacts in 1970.

Reynolds, who ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1997 and the sale of goods at auction the following year, accused Hamlett of making off with her money. She once again went on the road.

“My husband has robbed me blind,” they claimed in 1999. “The only one who not with money, was Eddie Fisher. He just didn’t pay for the children.”

In her later years, Reynolds continued to run her show, traveling 40 weeks per year. She also appeared regularly on tv, as John Goodman’s mother on “Roseanne” and a mom on “will & Grace.” Her books are included in the memoir “Unsinkable” and “Make ‘Em Laugh.”

In 1996, she won the critical acclaim in the title role of Albert Brooks’ film “Mother”, in which Brooks played a struggling writer who moves back home and works on his strained relationship with Reynolds’ character. A few years earlier, she had wanted to play the mother in the film adaptation of Fisher’s bittersweet semi-autobiographical novel “Postcards From the Edge”, which featured mother-daughter-actresses. Director Mike Nichols cast Shirley MacLaine in the place.

Reynolds and Fisher were seen together in the HBO documentary “Bright Lights,” scheduled for release in 2017.

Mary Frances Reynolds, spent the first eight years of her life in a Depression-era poverty in El Paso, Texas, where she was born on 1 April 1932. Her father, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad, was transferred to southern California and the family settled in Burbank, near the Warner Bros. studio.

The girl flourished, winning of 48 Girl Scout merit badges, excelling in the sport and the playing of horn and bass viola in the Burbank Youth Symphony. Friends persuaded her to enter the beauty contest for Miss Burbank, and she convinced the jury by the lip-sync with a Betty Hutton record.

They did a team with Taylor — long since separated from Fisher and two other veterans, Joan Collins, and MacLaine, for the year 2001 TV-movie “These Old Broads.” The script, co-written by Reynolds’ daughter, was about ageing, feuding actresses who come together for a reunion concert. Reynolds would look back and leaning over the Taylor affair, which no man could have resisted her, and that she actually voted for Taylor when she for best actress in 1960. The former romantic rivals had reconciled years before Taylor died in 2011; Reynolds remembered she had passengers on the Queen Elizabeth.

“I sent a note to her and she sent a note to me in passing, and then we went to eat together,” she told The Huffington Post a few months after Taylor’s death. “She was married to Richard Burton. I had remarried at that point. And we said, ‘Let’s call it a day.’ And we have thrown. And we had a great evening, and have remained friends since that time.”

The Associate Press contributed to this report.

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular