|Born||Todd Emmanuel Fisher
February 24, 1958
Beverly Hills, California
|Residence||Las Vegas and Creston, California|
|Alma mater||Southern California Institute of Architecture|
|Occupation||actor, director, producer, cinematographer, business executive, curator|
|Organization||Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino (CEO)
Hollywood Motion Picture Museum (CEO)
|Parent(s)||Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds|
Todd Fisher (born February 24, 1958) is an American actor, director, cinematographer, and producer of television films and documentaries. He has a professional background in architectural design and sound engineering, with experience designing and building sound stages, recording studios, and television facilities. He is also a business executive, known as the former CEO, President, CFO, and Treasurer of the Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino (DRHC), Debbie Reynolds Management Company, Inc., and Debbie Reynolds Resorts, Inc. As of 2013[update], he continues to serve as the CEO and curator of the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, which is housed at Debbie Reynolds Studios (DR Studios) in North Hollywood and at his ranch in Creston, California.
Todd Emmanuel Fisher was born on February 24, 1958 in Beverly Hills, California. He is the son of actors Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. His father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Russia, while his mother was Protestant, of Scots-Irish and English ancestry.
His siblings include sister Carrie Fisher and half-sisters Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher, daughters of actress Connie Stevens. Fisher was named after his father's best friend, producer Mike Todd, who was killed in an airplane crash on March 22, 1958, a month after Todd's birth. His parents divorced in April 1958, when his father left Reynolds for her best friend, actress Elizabeth Taylor, who was grieving the death of her husband, Mike Todd. In 1960, his mother married shoe store chain owner, Harry Karl. They remained married through 1973, divorcing when Fisher was 15 years old.
In 1980, Fisher became a born again Christian. He was ordained in 1982, and founded the Hiding Place Church, along with musician Henry Cutrona. The nondenominational charismatic Christian church started in North Hollywood at his mother's studio, DR Studios. It quickly outgrew the studio and moved to the Beverly Theater in Beverly Hills. By 1986, the church had moved its services from the theater to Emerson Middle School in Westwood, Los Angeles, California. The church reported an attendance of 1,000 individuals each Sunday.
On February 15, 1981, Fisher married his high school sweetheart, Donna Freberg, daughter of Stan Freberg. They divorced in 1986. He was married to Christi (née Zabel) Rivers, former wife of 60s singer, Johnny Rivers. Following her 1988 divorce from Rivers, Fisher and Christi raised her three children, Vanessa, and younger twin brothers, Brandon and James. Christi Fisher had worked as head of the art and costume department at the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum. She died of cancer on August 17, 2008. Fisher remains a close father figure to her children.
On December 22, 2012, Fisher married actress, author, and business executive Catherine Hickland at his sister's home in Beverly Hills. While Fisher's sister, Carrie, served as the best man, Catherine's brother, Robert Hickland, walked the bride down the aisle and gave her away. During the exchange of wedding bands, Fisher presented Catherine with his mother's ring that she had received during her 1955 wedding to Fisher's father. In keeping with tradition, Fisher and his bride spent their honeymoon night in the same bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel that Fisher's parents had stayed in on their honeymoon night. As of 2013[update], Fisher and his wife are both Nevada residents, living at his 1.25 acres (0.51 ha) compound in Las Vegas. They also spend time at his 300 acres (120 ha) Freedom Farms ranch in Creston, California.
Fisher has been involved in the entertainment industry for over five decades, appearing as an infant in documentaries and short films with his mother. During his youth, Fisher began showing an interest in the technical aspects of film making. He focused his efforts on shooting commercials, short films, and documentaries, becoming one of the youngest members of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) labor union. As an adult, he has more than 35 years of professional technical and creative experience in television and film. He is also a member of the American Society of Cinematographers.
In the early 1980s, Fisher worked with Trinity Broadcasting Network, where he wrote, produced and directed the comedy television program Nightlight, starring as satirical television evangelist, Reverend Hype. The show was modeled on the NBC program Saturday Night Live and featured actors and comedians such as Dan Aykroyd, Jerry Houser, Miguel Ferrer, Rene Russo, and Bernie Leadon - former member of the Eagles rock group.
Architectural design and sound engineering
In 1970, Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds began curating a large collection of Hollywood memorabilia. Her collection began with her participation in the landmark Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer auction that year, that auctioned off over 350,000 costumes alone. She spent $180,000, which accounted for the purchase of thousands of items, serving as the beginning of her ownership of movie memorabilia. In 1972, she established the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum (HMPM) as a federally tax-exempt corporation. The museum has been recognized as the largest individual collection of Hollywood memorabilia in the world.
In 1992, Reynolds and her husband Richard Hamlett bought the Paddlewheel Hotel & Casino at auction for $2.2 million. The purchase was made in anticipation of spending $15 million on renovations, which included plans for establishing a home for the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, which Reynolds established in 1972. The Paddlewheel Hotel & Casino reopened in 1993, renamed The Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino. In 1994, Fisher designed the hotel and casino's 500-seat showroom, where Reynolds performed her nightclub act, performing songs from her career of over 50 years in the entertainment industry. The showroom also serves as a complete television production studio. In addition to the showroom, Fisher also conceived and designed the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum. When Reynolds struggled with the financing to complete the project, she decided to take the company public in order to raise funds. When the museum celebrated its grand opening the following year, it was one of the first sites in the United States to exhibit high-definition video projection.
Hotel, casino, and museum management
In March 1994, Fisher was appointed the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of the Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino, joining his mother, who served as Chairman of the Board and Secretary with both holding seats on the board of directors. Upon assuming the role of CFO, it became evident that the hotel and casino was losing money each month, due to the company's poor capital structure and unsuccessful lease with the casino operator. Debbie eventually won a $10 million judgment in court against her former husband Richard Hamlett, in part for spurious financial dealing with the hotel and her personally. Additional board members of the Hollywood Museum have included Carrie Fisher, director George Lucas, Shirley MacLaine, and Elizabeth Taylor.
Upon assuming the role of CEO, Fisher began restructuring the company, in order to address financial mismanagement, diminished employee morale, and poor customer service and quality throughout the hotel, casino, and restaurant. Prior to March 31, 1996, Jackpot Enterprises contracted with the company to lease space to operate the casino in the hotel. The company gave notice of intent to terminate the lease agreement with Jackpot in February 1996, in accordance with the terms, owing to monthly loss of revenue on a consistent basis. Gaming operations discontinued as of March 31, 1996. By December 31, 1996, the company was in default, unable to make principal and interest payments on their mortgage. Payroll taxes of approximately $1,063,000, along with other accounts payable and accrued liabilities of approximately $3,643,000, were also in default.
In 1997, Fisher began pursuing avenues to sell the property to timeshare developer ILX (now known as Diamond Resorts International) for $16.8 million. After the deal fell through, Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy as part of a reorganization plan. The company entered into a $22.5 million merger agreement with CFI (Central Florida Investments), also known as Westgate Resorts, which would have saved the hotel and the public company. The unsecured creditors rejected the deal and opted to auction the property hoping for a better deal. Over the objection of Management, the property was put up for auction the following year, with the winning bid at $10.65 million, going to the World Wrestling Federation.
By 1999, Reynolds and Fisher began preparing to move the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum to a new location near the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, which was scheduled to open in 2004. When the Los Angeles museum's lender could no longer fund the project, the museum was unable to complete construction on the property. In turn, they could not repay a $1.6 million bridge loan, which later became the center of a lawsuit filed against the museum by Gregory Orman.
While the lawsuit between the museum and Orman waged on in the courts, the museum signed a deal to anchor the proposed Belle Island Village tourist attraction, which was scheduled to debut in fall 2008, in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. When the developer of the Belle Island Village resort met with financial struggles of their own, the construction lender Regions Bank foreclosed on the unfinished property. In response, the museum itself sought Chapter 11 protection in June 2009. The bank initially agreed to sell the resort property to Tennessee Investment Partners, which is partially owned by the real estate investment firm of Matisse Capital, the original developer of the proposed Belle Island Village. The purchase was scheduled to close by the end of March 2010, with assurances that the buyer intended to reinstate the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum as the centerpiece attraction of the new resort. The deal additionally called for agreements for the new investor to cover the lawsuit and financial claim made by Orman. When the sale of the property to Tennessee Investment Partners and subsequent plans to relocate the museum to Tennessee fell through, Reynolds and Fisher began making plans to liquidate the memorabilia collection.
Hollywood memorabilia auctions
In 2011, Reynolds and Fisher contracted with Profiles in History to begin auctioning the collection of Hollywood memorabilia, until enough proceeds were generated to pay off their creditors. In statements made to the press, Fisher announced that his mother was "heartbroken" to have to auction off her collection, which was valued at $10.79 million in the bankruptcy filing. The collection was sold in a series of auctions from June to December 2011.
On June 18, 2011, Marilyn Monroe's "subway dress", whose skirt is raised by the updraft of a passing subway train in The Seven Year Itch, sold for $4.6 million, far in excess of pre-auction estimates of $1–2 million. Another Monroe dress, worn in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, fetched $1.2 million; it had been expected to go for $200,000 to $300,000. Estimated at $60,000 to $80,000, a blue cotton dress Judy Garland used in test shots for The Wizard of Oz went for $910,000. In total, the auction grossed $22.8 million.
In the second auction, held on December 3, 2011, a still-functioning Panavision PSR 35 mm camera used to film Star Wars went for $520,000, breaking records for Star Wars memorabilia and vintage cameras.
- As himself
- 1959: A Visit with Debbie Reynolds (short) – as baby
- 1969: Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children (television movie) – as cub scout
- 1981: Nightlight (television series) – as Reverend Hype
- 2001: These Old Broads (television movie) – as Timothy
- 1988: Find Your Way Back: A Salute to the Space Shuttle (video documentary) – cinematographer
- 1989: Blue Angels: A Backstage Pass (video documentary) – cinematographer
- 2002: Cinerama Adventure (documentary) – cinematographer
- 2013: South Dakota (feature film) – cinematographer
- 1991: Movie Memories with Debbie Reynolds (TV series) – director
- 1994: Twogether – editor
- 1994: Twogether – producer
Honors and awards
In 1998, Todd Fisher, along with his mother and sister, Carrie Fisher were jointly honored with the American Film Institute's Platinum Circle Award. The honor is presented on an annual basis to a family from within the entertainment industry, in recognition of their creative contributions which have enhanced the entertainment community overall. The awards luncheon was hosted by actress Debbie Allen. The award itself was presented to the family by actress Candice Bergen. Bunny Stivers, president of AFI Associates, a major support group of the American Film Institute stated at the awards ceremony, "We are very pleased to honor a family with such a long and distinguished record in entertainment. Equally important, the proceeds raised today benefit the AFI, whose work in film training and preservation is a cause that we proudly support."
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