Debbie Reynolds

Debbie Reynolds (born April 1, 1932) is an American actress, singer, and dancer who was an MGM contract star. She is also a collector of movie memorabilia. 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] 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, and she was raised in a strict Nazarene faith. At age 16, while a student at Burbank’s John Burroughs High School, Reynolds won the Miss Burbank Beauty Contest, a contract with Warner Brothers, and acquired her new first name.

Debbie 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 1950 film Two Weeks with Love 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” (from her 1957 film Tammy and the Bachelor) earned her a gold record,[3] 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.

Debbie Reynolds talks about “Singing In The Rain”

In 1959 Reynolds recorded her first album for Dot Records, simply called Debbie, which included her own selection of 12 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. During these years she also headlined in major Las Vegas showrooms.

“Tammy”

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”,[4] she made headlines in 1970 after instigating a fight with the NBC television network over cigarette advertising on her eponymous television series; NBC cancelled the show.[4]

Marilyn Michaels and Debbie Reynolds on Love Boat

She continues to make appearances in film and television. On the NBC series Wings, she played Deedee Chapel, the mother of Helen Chapel-played by Crystal Bernard and the mother of Casey Chapel Davenport-played by Amy Yasbeck. The November 1994 episode was called If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother. From 1999 to its 2006 series finale, she played Grace Adler‘s ditzy mother Bobbi Adler on the NBC sitcom Will & Grace (1998–2006), which earned her a Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2000. She also 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.

Reynolds has released several albums of both her vintage performances and her later recordings.

She is currently performing in her West End show Debbie Reynolds: Alive and Fabulous.

“You Made Me Love You”

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 a 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.

“Dream of You”

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.

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. In her acceptance speech, she referred to the University as “Nevahda…Arizona”.

“I Wanna Be Loved By You”

Reynolds has been married three times. She and Eddie Fisher were married in 1955. They are the parents of Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher. A public scandal ensued when Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor fell in love, and Reynolds and Fisher were divorced in 1959. Her second marriage, to millionaire businessman Harry Karl, lasted from 1960 to 1973. At its end, she found herself in financial difficulty because of Karl’s gambling and bad investments. (Under the community property laws of California, both spouses in a marriage are legally responsible for debts incurred by either.) Reynolds was married to real estate developer Richard Hamlett from 1984 to 1996. They purchased Greek Isles Hotel & Casino, a small hotel and casino in Las Vegas, but it was not a success. In 1997, Reynolds was forced to declare bankruptcy.[5]

Reynolds has been active in the Thalians Club, a charitable organization.

“Are You For Real”

She has amassed a large collection of movie memorabilia 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 collection is scheduled to re-open in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee, area in the future.

She resides in Los Angeles next door to her daughter Carrie.

Sources: wikipedia, youtube, imdb.com

Filmography

Features:

Short subjects:

  • A Visit with Debbie Reynolds (1959)
  • The Story of a Dress (1964)

Television work

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