Debbie Reynolds was hospitalized on December 28, the day after her daughter’s death, Reynolds was rushed to the hospital after a 911 call reporting that she was having trouble breathing. She suffered a stroke which was caused from a broken heart.
Born Mary Frances Reynolds on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas. Reynolds was a Girl Scout and a troop leader (a scholarship in her name is offered to high-school age Girl Scouts). Her family moved to Burbank, California, in 1939. At age sixteen, she won the Miss Burbank beauty contest. Soon after, she had a contract with Warner Bros. Her breakout role was singing “I Wanna Be Loved By You” as Helen Kane in the 1950 film Three Little Words. She was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer. Reynolds was in the film Two Weeks with Love (1950) and her duet with Carleton Carpenter “Aba Daba Honeymoon” was a top-three hit in 1951. A 19, Reynolds was cast as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain, and she became beloved by world-wide. By the mid-1950s, she was a major star, with films such as 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). The song “Tammy” reached number one on the music charts. In 1959, she released her first pop music album, entitled Debbie.
She starred in How the West Was Won (1963) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), which earned her an Academy Award nomination. She went onto The Singing Nun (1966), Divorce American Style (1967), What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971), Mother (1996 Golden Globe nomination) and In & Out (1997).
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. Reynolds is also known for 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.
A collector of film memorabilia, beginning with the landmark 1970 MGM auction due to her ex-husband leaving her in bankruptcy. She is the former president of The Thalians, an organization dedicated to mental health causes. On 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.
In 1979 she opened her own dance studio in North Hollywood. In 1983 Reynolds released an exercise video titled Do It Debbie’s Way! Reynolds scored several top-25 Billboard hits, played, Las Vegas showroom, purchased the Clarion Hotel and Casino, a hotel and casino in Las Vegas, in 1992 and renamed it the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel, but it was not a success.
Reynolds was married three times. Her first marriage was to singer Eddie Fisher in 1955 ended in divorced in 1959 when Fisher had an affair with Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor was Debbie’s best friend at the time and caused a major scandal. Taylor and Reynolds made up on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth when 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. The two reconciled, and, as Reynolds put it, “…we had a wonderful evening with a lot of laughs”. The 1990 film Postcards from the Edge was written by Reynold’s daughter Carrie Fisher and was semi-autobiographical, with the character of “Doris Mann” based on Reynolds.
Reynold’s second marriage, to millionaire businessman Harry Karl, lasted from 1960 to 1973. Reynolds found herself in financial difficulty because of Karl’s gambling and bad investments. Her third marriage was to real estate developer Richard Hamlett from 1984 to 1996.
Reynolds is survived by her son Todd Fisher and her granddaughter, Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd.
Debbie’s final words; “I want to be with Carrie.”