FILM, SONG LEGEND DIES
Actress Debbie Reynolds, left, a star of the 1952 classic film “Singin’ in the Rain,” dies one day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher.
los angeles» Actress Debbie Reynolds, the star of the 1952 classic movie “Singin’ in the Rain” has died one day after the death of her daughter, actress-writer Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was 84.
Her son, Todd Fisher, said Reynolds died Wednesday.
“She’s now with Carrie, and we’re all heartbroken,” Fisher said from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where his mother was taken by ambulance Wednesday.
He said the stress of his sister’s death Tuesday “was too much” for Reynolds. Carrie Fisher, who was 60, had been hospitalized since Friday.
“She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie,’ ” her son said. “And then she was gone.”
Reynolds enjoyed the very heights of show business success and endured the depths of personal tragedy and betrayal. She lost one husband to Elizabeth Taylor, and two other husbands plundered her for millions.
Fisher, who found lasting fame as Princess Leia in “Star Wars” and struggled for much of her life with drug addiction and mental health problems, died after falling ill on a plane and being hospitalized.
Reynolds was a superstar early in life. After two minor roles at Warner Bros. and three supporting roles at MGM, studio boss Louis B. Mayer cast her in “Singin’ in the Rain,” despite Gene Kelly’s objections. She was 19 with little dance experience, and she would be appearing with two of the screen’s greatest dancers, Donald O’Connor and Kelly, who also co-directed.
“Gene Kelly was hard on me, but I think he had to be,” Reynolds, who more than held her own in the movie, said in 1999. “I had to learn everything in three to six months. Donald O’Connor had been dancing since he was 3 months old, Gene Kelly since he was 2 years old . ... I think Gene knew I had to be challenged.”
“The Unsinkable Molly Brown” was based on the life of a Colorado woman who rose from poverty to riches and triumphed over tragedy, including the sinking of the Titanic. The 1964 Meredith Willson musical, with Molly’s defiant 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 appeared.
After her transition from starlet to star, Reynolds became immensely popular with teen girls and more so when in 1955 she married Eddie Fisher, the pop singer whose fans were equally devoted.
Singer Debbie Reynolds performs in this 2003 photo.