Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds dies

Just a few weeks ago, Carrie Fisher was in London publicising her new book, The Princess Diarist, and was a guest on Graham Norton’s chat show, she’d also been spending a lot of time in London and had just bought a flat in Chelsea to live when she came to the UK. A couple of week’s later news broke that she’d suffered a cardiac arrest on a flight from London to Los Angeles, four days later she was dead. A film documentary, Bright Lights, about Carrie and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, was premiered in Cannes last May and was due to be aired in early 2017. The content about life for the Fisher and how Carrie was caring for her mother who was still performing at the age of 84. The day after Carrie passed, her brother, Todd, announced that his mother had suffered a severe stroke and died the following day.

Debbie was born Mary Frances Reynolds on 1st April 1932 in El Paso, Texas and was discovered in 1948 by talent scouts from both Warner Brothers and MGM at the Miss Burbank contest, four years later she got her first starring role when, still only 19, burst out of a cake in Singin’ in the Rain. The film starred Gene who also directed the moved and it was him and co-director Stanley Donen took a gamble on the inexperienced actress and it paid off. Debbie said, “I learned a lot from Gene. He is a perfectionist and a disciplinarian – the most exacting director I’ve ever worked for. Every so often, he would yell at me and make me cry. But it took a lot of patience for him to work with someone who had never danced before.”

In 1955 she’d married singer Eddie Fisher and were the parents to Carrie and Todd, they divorced four years later. In 1960 she married millionaire businessman Harry Karl which ended in 1973 and then between 1984 and 1996 she was married to real estate developer Richard Hamlett.

Her first movie role was in 1948 as an uncredited girlfriend in June Bride and went on to star in over 85 films including; Susan Slept Here (1954), The Tender Trap (1955), Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), The Mating Game (1959), Goodbye Charlie (1964), Charlotte’s Web (1973), a cameo role in The Bodyguard (1992) and her last film was Behind the Candelabra in 2013.

It was the song Tammy, named after her character in Tammy and the Bachelor in 1957 that gave her her only UK hit single which reached number two in the UK behind The Cricket’ That’ll Be The Day, but in the States it spent five weeks at the top. A couple of years later the song’s title inspired a young Berry Gordy to name his newly launched record label after it, but Tammy was already taken, so he initially called his label Tamla.

In 1991, she bought a hotel and casino in Las Vegas and in it she displayed many items from her extensive range of Hollywood costumes and in her later years she a relentless fund-raiser for The Thalians, a charity that provides mental health services for all ages.

In 2015 she received a Governors Award and an SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Life Achievement Award but was unable to attend following a small stroke. The screen Actors Guild award was presented to her on stage by Carrie.

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