Reynolds dies one day af­ter daugh­ter Fisher

The Washington Times Daily - - NATION - BY VIC­TOR MOR­TON

Leg­endary Hol­ly­wood ac­tress Deb­bie Reynolds died of a stroke Wed­nes­day, just one day af­ter the death of her daugh­ter, ac­tress Car­rie Fisher.

She suf­fered a stroke around 1 p.m. PST Wed­nes­day while at the Bev­erly Hills home of her son Todd Fisher, help­ing with plan­ning for her daugh­ter’s fu­neral.

Mr. Fisher con­firmed sev­eral hours later that his mother had died. “She spoke to me this morn­ing and said she missed Car­rie. She’s with Car­rie now,” he said. “We’re all heart­bro­ken.”

The 84-year-old Ms. Reynolds had re­port­edly been dis­traught since her daugh­ter, an iconic ac­tress her­self as Princess Leia in “Star Wars,” had died Tues­day af­ter suf­fer­ing a heart at­tack last week on a plane flight.

Born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas, the fresh-faced blonde be­came a star in 1952, play­ing the fe­male lead op­po­site Gene Kelly and Don­ald O’Con­nor in “Sin­gin in the Rain,” a film now rou­tinely called the great­est of all Hol­ly­wood mu­si­cals.

“They took this vir­gin tal­ent, this lit­tle thing, and ex­pected her to hold her own with Gene and with Don­ald O’Con­nor, two of the best dancers in the busi­ness,” Miss Reynolds once said.

She re­mained one of Hol­ly­wood’s top box-of­fice draws through­out the 1950s and 1960s, and her per­sonal life be­came one of the most-pub­li­cized in town.

Miss Reynolds spe­cial­ized in mu­si­cals, get­ting her sole Acad­emy Award nom­i­na­tion for the west­ern­themed Mered­ith Will­son film “The Unsink­able Molly Brown.” Its de­fi­ant song, “I Ain’t Down Yet,” be­came an un­of­fi­cial an­them for Miss Reynolds, and her 2013 au­to­bi­og­ra­phy was ti­tled “Unsink­able.”

Her other mu­si­cals in­cluded the tit­u­lar roles in “Give a Girl a Break” and “The Singing Nun.” Although “Tammy and the Bach­e­lor” was a ro­man­tic com­edy, not a mu­si­cal, Miss Reynolds did have a No. 1 hit on the pop mu­sic charts with the theme song “Tammy.”

One of her most-seen later roles was as the voice of Char­lotte in the 1973 an­i­mated adap­ta­tion of “Char­lotte’s Web.”

Her other films in­cluded a seg­ment of “How the West Was Won” op­po­site Gre­gory Peck, “The Catered Af­fair,” a Paddy Chayevsky drama with Bette Davis, and the ti­tle role in the Al­bert Brooks’ com­edy “Mother,” for which she re­ceived one of her five Golden Globe nom­i­na­tions.

“Deb­bie Reynolds, a leg­end and my movie mom. I can’t be­lieve this hap­pened one day af­ter Car­rie. My heart goes out to” grand­daugh­ter Bil­lie Lourd, Mr. Brooks wrote on Twit­ter.

She was in­volved in one of the 1950s’ big­gest ro­man­tic scan­dals, as her first hus­band, singer Ed­die Fisher, left her in 1958 for the re­cently wi­d­owed El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor, Miss Reynolds’ friend at the time.

The scan­dal was so great that Mr. Fisher, the fa­ther of both Car­rie and Todd, lost a TV va­ri­ety show he had been host­ing. Ac­cord­ing to The As­so­ci­ated Press, the cover of Pho­to­play mag­a­zine read: “Smil­ing through her tears, Deb­bie says: I’m still very much in love with Ed­die.”

In an in­ter­view with The Huff­in­g­ton Post af­ter Tay­lor’s 2011 death, Miss Reynolds said the two rec­on­ciled while sail­ing on the Queen El­iz­a­beth liner.

“I sent a note to her, and she sent a note to me in pass­ing, and then we had din­ner to­gether,” she said. “She was mar­ried to Richard Bur­ton by then. I had been re­mar­ried at that point. And we just said, ‘Let’s call it a day.’ And we got smashed.”

Miss Reynolds’ sec­ond and third mar­riages, to Harry Karl and Richard Ham­lett, also ended in di­vorce. Mr. Karl’s gam­bling, Mr. Ham­lett’s profli­gacy and some failed busi­ness ven­tures forced Miss Reynolds to de­clare bank­ruptcy in 1997.

“All of my hus­bands have robbed me blind,” she said in 1999. “The only one who didn’t take money was Ed­die Fisher. He just didn’t pay for the chil­dren.”

Daugh­ter Car­rie wrote a thinly fic­tion­al­ized semi­comic ac­count of their on-and-off re­la­tion­ship ti­tled “Post­cards From the Edge,” which be­came a best-seller and later a ma­jor film with Shirley MacLaine in the “Deb­bie Reynolds” role.


A day af­ter ac­tress Car­rie Fisher (left) died, her mother Deb­bie Reynolds also died Wed­nes­day, re­port­edly af­ter work­ing on her daugh­ter’s fu­neral ar­range­ments.

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