Debbie Reynolds

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For other people named Debbie Reynolds, see Deborah Reynolds (disambiguation).
Debbie Reynolds
Debbie Reynolds.jpg
Debbie Reynolds circa 1970
Born Mary Frances Reynolds
(1932-04-01) April 1, 1932 (age 83)
El Paso, Texas, United States
Occupation Actress, singer, dancer
Years active 1948–present
Religion Nazarene
Spouse(s) Eddie Fisher
(m. 1955; div. 1959)
Harry Karl
(m. 1960; div. 1973)
Richard Hamlett
(m. 1984; div. 1996)
Children Carrie Fisher
Todd Fisher
Parent(s) Raymond Francis Reynolds
Maxine N. Harmon
Website www.debbiereynolds.com

Debbie Reynolds (born Mary Frances Reynolds; April 1, 1932) is an American actress, singer, and dancer.

Initially signed at age sixteen by Warner Bros., Reynolds' career got off to a slow start. When her contract was not renewed, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) gave her a small but significant part in the film Three Little Words (1950) starring Fred Astaire and Red Skelton, then signed her to a seven-year contract. In her next film, Two Weeks with Love (1950), she had a hit with the song "Aba Daba Honeymoon". She then co-starred with Lana Turner and Ezio Pinza in "Mr. Imperium" (1951).However, it was her first leading role at age 19 in Singin' in the Rain (1952) with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor, that set her on the path to fame. By the mid-1950s, she was a major star.

Other notable successes include Susan Slept Here (1954), Bundle of Joy (1956), Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), in which her rendering of the song "Tammy" reached number one on the music charts; a major role opposite Gregory Peck in the Western How the West Was Won (1963) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), a biographical film about the famously boisterous Margaret Brown (who was a survivor of the tragic Titanic sinking), for which she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. In 1973 Reynolds was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in Irene. She was also nominated for an Emmy Award for playing Grace's mother on Will & Grace.

Reynolds's first marriage, to popular singer Eddie Fisher, produced a son, author/host producer Todd Fisher, and a daughter, actress/author Carrie Fisher, but ended in divorce in 1959 when Fisher fell in love with Reynolds's former (and later) friend Elizabeth Taylor. Reynolds's second and third marriages also ended in divorce.

She is a noted collector of film memorabilia, beginning with the landmark 1970 MGM auction. In June 2011, unable to find a suitable home for her large collection, she began auctioning it off. She continues to perform successfully on stage, television and film to the present day. In January 2015, Reynolds received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.

Early life[edit]

Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas, the second child of Maxine N. (née Harmon; 1913–1999) and Raymond Francis Reynolds (1903–1986), who was a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad.[1][2] She has a Scottish-Irish and English ancestry.[3] 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, where she was raised in a strict Nazarene faith. At age sixteen, in 1948, while a student at Burbank High School (not Burroughs High as has been misreported), she won the Miss Burbank beauty contest. Soon after, she had a contract with Warner Bros, and acquired a new first name. Her older brother Bill graduated from Burbank High School in 1947.

Career[edit]

Reynolds regularly appeared in movie musicals during the 1950s and had several hit records during the period. Her song "Aba Daba Honeymoon" (featured in the film Two Weeks with Love [1950] as a duet with Carleton Carpenter) was a top-three hit in 1951. Her most high-profile film role was in Singin' in the Rain (1952) as Kathy Selden. In Bundle of Joy (1956) she appeared with her then-husband, Eddie Fisher.

Her recording of the song "Tammy" (1957; from Tammy and the Bachelor), earned her a gold record,[4] and was the best-selling single by a female vocalist in 1957. It was number one for five weeks on the Billboard pop charts. In the movie (the first of the Tammy film series), she co-starred with Leslie Nielsen.

In 1959, Reynolds recorded her first album for Dot Records, simply called Debbie, which included her own selection of twelve standards including "S'posin'", "Moonglow", "Mean To Me", and "Time After Time". Bing Crosby paid tribute to Reynolds in the sleeve notes accompanying the album thus:

Someone recently said, and with reasonable accuracy I would think, that good singers make good actors. Evidence in support of this belief is available in the recent performances of Sinatra and Martin, for instance, but I would like to put forth also the proposition that the reverse is quite true: good actors make good singers. Assuming they can carry a tune. We all know that Debbie is better than a good actress—she's VERY good, and we all know she can sing with a lilt and a listenable quality that's genuinely pleasant and agreeable. Witness "Tammy". It was small surprise to me then that when I listened to this beautiful album she has etched for Dot, I found myself captivated and enchanted. Quite obviously Debbie had spent a great deal of time selecting the songs to be included, because she's made them her own, and invested them with a sincerity that's inescapable—of contrasting moods to be sure, but the moods are there, and to me, mighty effective. And that, mes amis, is artistry.

Reynolds also scored two other top-25 Billboard hits with "A Very Special Love" (1958) and "Am I That Easy to Forget" (1960)—a pop-music version of a country-music hit made famous by both songwriters Carl Belew (in 1959), Skeeter Davis (in 1960), and several years later by singer Engelbert Humperdinck. She has released several albums of both her vintage performances and her later recordings.[citation needed]

Marquee listing Reynolds's world premiere at the Riviera Hotel, Las Vegas, December 1962

During these years, she also headlined in major Las Vegas showrooms. Her starring role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) led to a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress. She then portrayed Jeanine Deckers in The Singing Nun (1966). In what Reynolds has called the "stupidest mistake of my entire career",[5] she made headlines in 1970 after instigating a fight with the NBC television network over cigarette advertising on her eponymous television series; NBC canceled the show.[5]

In Las Vegas, 1978

Reynolds made her Broadway debut in 1973 in a revival of Irene, a musical first produced 60 years before. For that production, she received a Tony nomination. She toured with Harve Presnell in Annie Get Your Gun, then wrapped up the Broadway run of Woman of the Year in 1983. In the late 1980s, Reynolds repeated her role as Molly Brown in the stage version of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, first opposite Presnell (repeating his original Broadway and movie role) and later with Ron Raines.[citation needed]

Reynolds continues to make appearances in film and television. She played Helen Chappel Hackett's mother, Deedee Chappel, on an episode of Wings titled, "If It's Not One Thing, It's Your Mother", which originally aired on November 22, 1994.[6] From 1999 to its 2006 series finale, she played Grace Adler's theatrical mother, Bobbi Adler, on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, which earned her an Emmy Award[7] nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2000. She plays a recurring role in the Disney Channel Original Movie Halloweentown film series as Aggie Cromwell. Reynolds made a guest appearance as a presenter at the 69th Academy Awards in 1997.[citation needed]

She appeared in her West End show Debbie Reynolds: Alive and Fabulous. In June 2010 she replaced Ivana Trump answering reader queries for the weekly paper Globe.[8]

Reynolds' new tell-all autobiography, Unsinkable—a play-on-words of her 1964 film The Unsinkable Molly Brown—was published by William Morrow and Company on April 2, 2013.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Reynolds won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Catered Affair (1956).

She has received various nominations for awards including: an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy for The Debbie Reynolds Show (1970), a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for Mother (1996) and an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series, for her role of Bobbi Adler in the sitcom Will & Grace (2000). In 1996 and 1997, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy, in the American Comedy Awards.

Her foot and hand prints are preserved at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6654 Hollywood Boulevard for live performance and a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs, California, Walk of Stars dedicated to her.[10]

In November 2006, Reynolds received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" from Chapman University (Orange, California). On May 17, 2007, she was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Nevada, Reno, (Reno, Nevada) where she had contributed for many years to the film-studies program.

Reynolds last CD was a Christmas Record with the late Donald O'Connor entitled "Chrissy the Christmas Mouse". It received rave reviews and was arranged by Angelo DiPippo and produced by Dr. Fillardi.

Awards and nominations
Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1951 Golden Globe Awards New Star of the Year – Actress Three Little Words Nominated
1956 National Board of Review Best Supporting Actress The Catered Affair Won
1957 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Bundle of Joy Nominated
1965 Academy Awards Best Actress The Unsinkable Molly Brown Nominated
1965 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy The Unsinkable Molly Brown Nominated
1970 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy The Debbie Reynolds Show Nominated
1996 American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy Herself Won
1997 American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy Herself Won
1997 Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy Mother Nominated
1997 Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Mother Won
1998 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Supporting Actress – Comedy In & Out Nominated
2000 Daytime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performer in a Children's Special A Gift of Love: The Daniel Huffman Story Nominated
2000 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Will & Grace Nominated
2014 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award[11] Herself Won

Film memorabilia[edit]

C. 1986 with Cary Grant portrait

Reynolds has amassed a large collection of movie memorabilia, beginning with the landmark 1970 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer auction, and displayed them, first in a museum at her Las Vegas hotel and casino during the 1990s and later in a museum close to the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles. On several occasions, she has auctioned off items from the collection.

The museum was to relocate to be the centerpiece of the Belle Island Village tourist attraction in the resort city of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, but the developer went bankrupt.[12][13] The museum itself filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy[14] in June 2009.[12]

Todd Fisher, Reynolds' son, announced that his mother was "heartbroken" to have to auction off her collection.[12] It was valued at $10.79 million in the bankruptcy filing.[13] The Vancouver Sun reported that Profiles in History has been given the responsibility of conducting a series of auctions beginning in June and continuing into December 2011.[15] Among the "more than 3500 costumes, 20,000 photographs, and thousands of movie posters, costume sketches, and props" to be sold are Charlie Chaplin's bowler hat and Marilyn Monroe's white "subway dress", whose skirt is lifted up by the breeze from a passing subway train in the film The Seven Year Itch (1955).[15]

Personal life[edit]

Illness[edit]

Reynolds was hospitalized in October 2012 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles because she had an adverse reaction to medication she was taking. She canceled appearances and concert engagements for the next three months.[16]

Marriages[edit]

Marriage to Eddie Fisher in 1955

Reynolds has been married three times. Her first marriage was to singer Eddie Fisher in 1955. They are the parents of Carrie and Todd Fisher. A public scandal ensued when Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor fell in love following the death of Taylor's then-husband Mike Todd, and Reynolds and Fisher were divorced in 1959. In 2011, first on The Oprah Winfrey Show only weeks before Elizabeth Taylor's death from congestive heart failure, Reynolds explained that she and Taylor happened to be traveling on the ocean liner Queen Elizabeth at the same time when they made up. 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".

Her second marriage, to millionaire businessman Harry Karl, lasted from 1960 to 1973. He was previously married to Marie McDonald. Reynolds later found herself in financial difficulty because of Karl's gambling and bad investments.

Reynolds in April 2013

Reynolds was married to real estate developer Richard Hamlett from 1984 to 1996. They purchased Paddlewheel Hotel & Casino, a hotel and casino in Las Vegas, but it was not a success. In 1997, Reynolds was forced to declare bankruptcy.[17]

Charity work[edit]

Since 1955, Reynolds has been active in The Thalians,[18] a charitable organization, devoted to children and adults with mental health issues. In 2011 she stepped down after 56 years of involvement, and is now an emerita member.

In keeping with the celebrity tradition of the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival of Winchester, Virginia, Reynolds was honored as the Grand Marshal of the 2011 ABF that took place from April 26 to May 1, 2011.[19]

As an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church, Reynolds occasionally performs wedding services. [20]

Filmography[edit]

Features:

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1948 June Bride Boo's Girlfriend at Wedding Uncredited
1950 Daughter of Rosie O'Grady, TheThe Daughter of Rosie O'Grady Maureen O'Grady
1950 Three Little Words Helen Kane
1950 Two Weeks with Love Melba Robinson
1951 Mr. Imperium Gwen
1952 Singin' in the Rain Kathy Selden
1952 Skirts Ahoy! Debbie Reynolds Uncredited
1953 I Love Melvin Judy Schneider / Judy LeRoy
1953 Affairs of Dobie Gillis, TheThe Affairs of Dobie Gillis Pansy Hammer
1953 Give a Girl a Break Suzy Doolittle
1954 Susan Slept Here Susan Beauregard Landis
1954 Athena Minerva Mulvain
1955 Hit the Deck Carol Pace
1955 Tender Trap, TheThe Tender Trap Julie Gillis
1956 Meet Me in Las Vegas Debbie Reynolds Uncredited
1956 Catered Affair, TheThe Catered Affair Jane Hurley
1956 Bundle of Joy Polly Parish
1957 Tammy and the Bachelor Tammy
1958 This Happy Feeling Janet Blake
1959 Mating Game, TheThe Mating Game Mariette Larkin
1959 Say One for Me Holly LeMaise aka Conroy
1959 It Started with a Kiss Maggie Putnam
1959 Gazebo, TheThe Gazebo Nell Nash
1960 Rat Race, TheThe Rat Race Peggy Brown
1960 Pepe Cameo
1961 Pleasure of His Company, TheThe Pleasure of His Company Jessica Anne Poole
1961 Second Time Around, TheThe Second Time Around Lucretia 'Lu' Rogers
1962 How the West Was Won Lilith Prescott
1963 My Six Loves Janice Courtney
1963 Mary, Mary Mary McKellaway
1964 Unsinkable Molly Brown, TheThe Unsinkable Molly Brown Molly Brown
1964 Goodbye Charlie Charlie Sorel / Virginia Mason
1966 Singing Nun, TheThe Singing Nun Sister Ann
1967 Divorce American Style Barbara Harmon
1968 How Sweet It Is! Jenny Henderson
1971 What's the Matter with Helen? Adelle
1973 Charlotte's Web Charlotte A. Cavatica Voice
1974 Busby Berkeley Documentary
1974 That's Entertainment! Compilation film
1987 Sadie and Son Sadie TV Movie
1989 Perry Mason: The Case of the Musical Murder Amanda Cody
1989 Kiki's Delivery Service Madame Voice (English dub)
1992 Battling for Baby Helen TV Movie
1992 Bodyguard, TheThe Bodyguard Debbie Reynolds Cameo as herself
1993 Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul Documentary
1993 Heaven & Earth Eugenia
1994 That's Entertainment! III Compilation film
1996 Mother Beatrice Henderson
1996 Wedding Bell Blues Herself
1997 In & Out Berniece Brackett
1998 Zack and Reba Beulah Blanton
1998 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie Mrs. Claus / Mitzi - Rudolph's Mother / Mrs. Prancer - School Teacher Voice
1998 Halloweentown Splendora Agatha "Aggie" Cromwell
1998 Christmas Wish, TheThe Christmas Wish Ruth TV Movie
1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Herself Voice only
1999 A Gift of Love: The Daniel Huffman Story Shirlee Allison TV Movie
1999 Keepers of the Frame Documentary
2000 Rugrats in Paris: The Movie Lulu Pickles Voice
2000 Virtual Mom Gwen TV Movie
2000 Rugrats: Acorn Nuts & Diapey Butts Lulu Johnson Voice
2001 These Old Broads Piper Grayson TV Movie
2001 Halloweentown II: Kalabar's Revenge Splendora Agatha "Aggie" Cromwell TV Movie
2002 Cinerama Adventure Herself (Interviewee) Documentary
2002 Generation Gap TV Movie
2004 Connie and Carla Herself
2004 Halloweentown High Splendora Agatha "Aggie" Cromwell TV Movie
2006 Return to Halloweentown Splendora Agatha "Aggie" Cromwell TV Movie
Cameo Appearance
2006 Lolo's Cafe Mrs. Atkins Voice
2007 Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project Herself (Interviewee) Documentary
2008 Light of Olympia Queen Voice
2008 Jill & Tony Curtis Story, TheThe Jill & Tony Curtis Story Herself Documentary
2008 Blaze of Glory Voice
2008 Brothers Warner, TheThe Brothers Warner Documentary
2008 Fay Wray: A Life Documentary
2012 One for the Money Grandma Mazur
2012 In the Picture Aunt Lilith Short
2013 Behind the Candelabra Frances Liberace TV Movie

Short subjects:

  • A Visit with Debbie Reynolds (1959)
  • The Story of a Dress (1964)
  • In the Picture (2012)

Television work[edit]


Stage work[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Debbie Reynolds profile, filmreference.com; accessed January 25, 2015.
  2. ^ "Ancestry of Carrie Fisher", Genealogy.com
  3. ^ Byrne, James Patrick. Coleman, Philip. King, Jason Francis. Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia. Volume 2. P. 804. ABC-CLIO, 2008; ISBN 978-1-85109-614-5.
  4. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London, UK: Barrie & Jenkins. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  5. ^ a b Reynolds, Debbie (with Columbia, David Patrick) (1988). Debbie: My Life. William Morrow and Company, p. 309; ISBN 978-0-688-06633-8
  6. ^ [1]. Internet Movie Database.
  7. ^ Debbie Reynolds Emmy Award Nomination
  8. ^ "Who Would You Rather Take Advice From? Ivana Trump or Debbie Reynolds?". Janet Charlton's Hollywood. 2010-06-03. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  9. ^ Staff (January 31, 2012). "Debbie Reynolds Memoir: 'Unsinkable' To Highlight Divorces". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  10. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars by date dedicated
  11. ^ "51st Life Achievement Recipient, 2014". 19 August 2014. Retrieved 2014-08-19. 
  12. ^ a b c "Auction Set for Debbie Reynolds' Hollywood Memorabilia". Los Angeles Daily News. September 10, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Flory, Josh (September 9, 2010). "With No Buyer, Debbie Reynolds' Hollywood Memorabilia To Go To Auction". Knoxville News Sentinel. 
  14. ^ "Reynolds to Auction Hollywood Memorabilia". The Wall Street Journal blogs. September 10, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Stone, Jay (February 27, 2011). "Marilyn Monroe's Skirt Going Up – On Auction Block". The Vancouver Sun. 
  16. ^ "Debbie Reynolds hospitalized, cancels three months of shows". Fox News. October 10, 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  17. ^ Brozan, Nadine (July 9, 1997). "Chronicle". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  18. ^ http://thalians.org
  19. ^ "Grand Marshal: Debbie Reynolds". thebloom.com. June 14, 2011. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
  20. ^ Lewis Ashmore (1977). The Modesto Messiah: The Famous Mail-order Minister. Universal Press. ISBN 978-0-918950-01-7. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]