It’s probably a bit of an understatement to simply say that Debbie Reynolds was a big Hollywood star. No, she was much more than just that. Debbie’s story was pretty much the quintessential rags to riches story. She was born into an impoverished family in Texas and rose to fame starring in films like Unsinkable Molly Brown and Singin’ in the Rain.
She wasn’t just a star on the movie screen either. Reynolds made quite the name for herself performing on Broadway alongside her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Later on, she ended up in Las Vegas where she opened her very own hotel and museum.
Reynolds was essentially a living relic of the golden age of Hollywood. She embodied Tinseltown’s bygone set of values and ideals from that historical era. She amasses a huge collection of priceless memorabilia that helps preserve the history of this culturally rich period.
No mother wants to outlive their children. Sadly, sometimes this is a morbid reality that can’t be prevented. In this video, we’re going to present the theory that Carrie Fishers’ death led to the death of her mother. We’re also going to try to do both actresses justice by celebrating the many accomplishments of their lives and careers.
From El Paso to Miss Burbank
Debbie is one of the more influential figures from the Golden Age of Hollywood. She hails from El Paso, Texas, a town that is far from the glitz, glamour, and radiance of Southern California.
She was born Mary Frances Reynolds in 1932. Debbie’s father is a carpenter and her mom is a homemaker that does the neighbor’s laundry to manage. Her family lives paycheck to paycheck and just barely to buy food and keep a roof over their heads. But despite how much they suffered financially, they always managed to pull through.
The Reynolds family eventually moved to Burbank, California when Debbie was just 5 years old. Despite the fact that they were still very poor, they somehow managed to keep afloat month after month.
Reynolds attended Burbank High School and in 1948 she has crowned the winner of the Miss Burbank Beauty Contest. That was a defining moment for her because, after that, her life changed forever. Not long after winning the contest, Jack Warner extended to Reynolds a contract to work with Warner Brothers. They weren’t the only studio either that was barking up her tree, because MGM also had her in their sights.
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And don’t go anywhere just yet. In just a moment we’re going to show you how Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher’s deaths were integrally connected. So stay tuned.
MGM Made Her An Offer She Couldn’t Refuse
Warner Brothers and MGM make a coin toss to see who can offer first Debbie her first Hollywood contract. Apparently, Warner Brothers are the winner of that wager. Regardless, just two years after signing a contract with Warner Brothers, Reynolds made the move over to MGM.
The interest of the studio is in musicals which are pretty much the only films that they want to produce. Reynolds’s first day at MGM apparently didn’t go quite as planned either. After entering the studio’s gate, she runs into Clark Gable who welcome her by informing her that he is quitting.
In transitioning, Reynolds records a hit single ‘Aba Daba Honeymoon’ which features in her 1950 film Two Weeks With Love. The track made its way to the top of the Billboard charts where it peaked at number three. The record even went gold – and to think, that all of this happened within just a few years of Reynolds making her entrance into the entertainment industry.
Unprepared For Just About Everything
Debbie Reynold’s biggest and most prestigious role was probably playing Kathy Selden in Singin’ In The Rain. Anyone watching that film today will find it very difficult to picture any other actress in that role. Even though she seems perfect for the part and executes her lines and moves perfectly alongside her co-strar Gene Kelly, in reality, when she receives an offer, the part, she was woefully unprepared for what she had signed up for. Not only does she is zero experience with dancing or choreography, but she didn’t ever even been kissed before either.
When MGM’s Louis B. Mayer informed her that she would be co-starring with Kelly in the musical all she said was ‘Yes, Sir’ without thinking twice about whether she could actually pull off all of the demanding physical moves required for the performance.
Hoping that it would help her prepare for the role, Reynolds went on a date with Hugh O ‘Brian who guided her through her first kiss. But that was just one of her problems. Keeping up with the physical demands of starring in that film was almost too much for her. She later admitted that two of the most painful things that she ever experienced in life were childbirth and Singin’ In The Rain.
Her Marriage To Eddie Fisher Was No Walk In The Park
Throughout her life, Reynolds was married three times, but it’s her first marriage to Eddie Fisher that is the most fascinating one to revisit. At first, it seemed like the two Hollywood elites were perfectly made for each other. They were both exceptionally talented and attractive stars that the press loved to snap photos of whenever they went out on the town.
When they got hitched in 1955 and subsequently welcomed two children into the world, they became this sort of embodiment of the All-American family – or at least on paper.
Well, Reynolds and Fisher were both pretty good friends with Elizabeth Taylor and her husband Mike Todd. After Todd passed away, Fisher went over to Elizabeth’s house to offer his condolences and companionship to his mourning friend. But what might have started off as innocent, good intentions, quickly turned into a full-fledged romantic relationship.
Reynolds ended up divorcing Fisher over it and he lost his show. Instead of sweeping the whole situation under the carpet, MGM put Fisher’s infidelity on the front page of every magazine and newspaper. This only added insult to injury to Reynold’s who was already struggling with heartache that Fisher left her with.
Sin City, Baby!
Reynolds was clearly one of Hollywood’s shining stars, but as a new era of filmmaking took hold in the late 60s and 70s, she and other once-popular actors fell out of favor. After finding it more difficult to score roles on the big screen, Reynolds instead shifted over to Broadway to try her hand at stage acting. She debuted in the Broadway revival of Irene in 1973 alongside her daughter, Carrie.
Reynolds earned herself a Tony nod for her performance and the production broke weekly-gross records for musicals at the time. After that, she went on to star in the 1976 revue production, Debbie.
From there, she wanted to expand her horizons a bit so she opened up a dance studio in North Hollywood in 1979 and produced an exercise video in the 80s. In 1993, she opened up the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Hollywood Movie Museum in downtown Las Vegas.
She performed at the hotel five nights a week between 1993 and 1997. Visitors to the museum portion got the chance to see her extensive collection of rare Hollywood memorabilia. You could go there and see things like Gene Kelly’s dance shoes from Singin’ In The Rain or the actual ruby red slippers featured in The Wizard of Oz. Sadly, the museum shut its doors for good in 1997, and Reynold’s forces into filing for bankruptcy.
More Trouble In Paradise
After Reynolds’ daughter, Carrie Fisher found her whirlwind of success with the Star Wars films, their relationship became very estranged. Carrie always resented the fact that her mother was so famous. She just wanted a normal mom that did all the normal mom stuff like baking and embroidery, but Reynolds did none of those kinds of things.
For the next decade, the two actresses barely spoke to each other. Fortunately, they were able to patch things up and salvage their relationship after the release of Fisher’s Postcards From The Edge in 2000. Reynolds ended up moving into the house next to Fisher’s and they remained neighbors and close friends for the remainder of their lives.
On December 27, 2016, Fisher passed away at the age of 60 after going into cardiac arrest during a transatlantic flight. Just one day later, her mother suffered a stroke and was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA where she too was pronounced dead at the age of 84.
Todd Fisher, her son, said that his mother was so devastated by Carrie’s death that it most definitely played a part in her death as well. Reportedly one of the last things she said before passing away was that she wanted to be with Carrie.
It’s not surprising that things played out like that though. For the last decade of both women’s lives, they were essentially inseparable. After setting aside their differences and burying the hatchet so-to-speak, their relationship flourished like never before. Even though their deaths were untimely and tragic, it’s still beautiful that they were able to rekindle their relationship in the end.
So, did Carrie Fisher’s death cause the death of her mother? Well, it’s pretty much impossible to say definitively that it did, but historically speaking, people have died from a broken heart before, and this sure looks like one of those situations where that might be the case.
But what do you think? Do you think Debbie’s death was correlated to Carrie’s or do you think that it was just an awful coincidence that they both passed away back to back like that? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
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