Veteran Hollywood actress Debbie Reynolds, best known for films such as Singin’ in the Rain, Tammy & The Unsinkable Molly Brown, has died aged 84.
She died just a day after the death of actress daughter, Carrie Fisher.
According to reports she was at the home of son Todd Reynolds discussing funeral plans for her late daughter when she suffered a stroke and was rushed to Cedars-Sinai hospital.
“She wanted to be with Carrie,” her son Todd Fisher said.
Marie Frances Reynolds, Variety notes she had a wholesome girl-next-door look which was coupled with a no-nonsense attitude in her roles. They ranged from sweet vehicles like Tammy to more serious fare such as The Rat Race and How the West Was Won.
For Singin’ in the Rain, Gene Kelly put her through rigorous dance training, which she admitted she needed. “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,” she once said.
Other film credits included The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady, Three Little Words, Two Weeks With Love, Mr. Imperium, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, Give a Girl a Break, Susan Slept Here, Athena, Hit the Deck, The Tender Trap, The Catered Affair, Bundle of Joy, Tammy and the Bachelor, The Mating Game, The Pleasure of His Company, The Rat Race, Mary Mary, Goodbye Charlie, The Singing Nun, Divorce American Style, What’s the Matter With Helen?, Mother, The Bodyguard, Heaven and Earth, In and Out, One for the Money, Charlotte’s Web, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie, Rugrats in Paris, Light of Olympia.
TV credits included The Love Boat, Hotel, Rugrats, Aloha Paradise, The Golden Girls, Roseanne, Will and Grace, Behind the Candelabra, Kim Possible, Family Guy, The Debbie Reynolds Show and These Old Broads penned by Carrie Fisher.
She starred on stage in Irene, Annie Get Your Gun, Woman of the Year, & The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She toured nightclubs in Las Vegas, Reno and to Australia with appearances on The Don Lane Show.
She also established the Debbie Reynolds Professional Studios in Burbank and was among the young actors who founded the Thalians, a charitable organisation aimed at raising awareness and providing treatment and support for those suffering from mental health issues. She was also known for her energetic battles to preserve Hollywood heritage. She bought thousands of pieces when MGM auctioned off its costumes and props, including Marilyn Monroe’s “subway dress” from The Seven Year Itch, a Charlie Chaplin bowler hat and a copy of the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. Reynolds spent decades trying to get these items showcased in a museum.
But amid all the success, her private life was at the centre of one of the decade’s biggest scandals when then-husband, singer Eddie Fisher, left her for Elizabeth Taylor in 1958 and there were failed business ventures including The Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel. She was married three times.
Reynolds received the Screen Actors Guild lifetime achievement award in January 2015 and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voted to present the actress with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Nov. 14 Governors Awards, but she was unable to attend the ceremony due to an “unexpectedly long recovery from a recent surgery.”
“A long time ago … I realised that I loved to sing, dance, and make people laugh,” she said in 2002. “The trick is finding something that you like and sticking with it.”