Screen Legend Debbie Reynolds Dies at 84, the Day After Her Daughter
Nobody deserves to lose a child, especially not screen legend Debbie Reynolds, whom some physicists have theorized is actually the entire sun, squashed into the form of a 5’2″ triple threat from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. But her son told the Associated Press that she died yesterday after being rushed to the hospital for a possible stroke, just the day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher.
Reynolds’ son, Todd Fisher, made the announcement, saying that he thought the stress and pain of losing her daughter was just too much for his mother. He said that her last words were, “I miss her so much, I want to be with Carrie.” About 15 minutes after that, she suffered what is suspected to be a stroke, and then she was gone.
“She’s now with Carrie, and we’re all heartbroken,” Todd Fisher said.
Reynolds was wonderful throughout her career. She could sing, dance, and act, and nobody ever looked like they were having as much fun at work as she did. It takes a lot of work to sing and dance the way Reynolds did, but whenever she performs, it just looks like the most fun a human being can ever have. Generations of people must have watched this scene from Singin’ in the Rain and thought, “I wish I could do that!”
She was having a great time, and that’s why she never stopped. Reynolds kept performing her whole life. She was the voice of Charlotte the spider in the movie of Charlotte’s Web that made all of us cry as children, she was Nana Possible in Disney’s Kim Possible, and she’s even a squirrel in The Penguins of Madagascar. She was also Grandma Aggie in Halloweentown.
Reynolds was America’s Sweetheart, but she was also whip-smart and pretty sassy. Just last month, when Carrie Fisher’s new book “The Princess Diarist” came out, Reynolds Tweeted: “Why all the fuss about Carrie’s admitting she had an affair with Harrison Ford? I have to admit I slept with her father! New book on 11/22!”
Reynolds’ own biography, “Make ’em Laugh,” came out on November 22.
Reynolds was also an outspoken supporter of LGBT rights, and she was hosting AIDS benefits years before President Regan ever actually said the word “AIDS” in public.
And as a note that is of personal interest to me, Debbie Reynolds was also the greatest collector and archivist of Hollywood costumes there has ever been. When MGM was closing and the studios were trashing their old costume warehouses, Reynolds was the one who said, “WTF! You can’t just throw it all away! Are you crazy?”
She bought it all, and her collection dwarfed any museum’s. She had Dorothy’s ruby slippers, Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat, Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven-Year Itch, Audrey Hepburn’s Ascot dress from My Fair Lady (by legendary Oscar-winning costume designer Cecil Beaton), Vivien Leigh’s costumes from Gone With the Wind–including the green “curtains” dress–and more. Really, she had everything. If you ever wanted to know where Claudette Colbert’s gold lame gown from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1934 Cleopatra was, it was at Debbie Reynolds’ house, with basically every other significant costume from film history.
Reynolds reportedly tried for years to get her whole collection into a museum. She started one herself in the 90s, but it eventually went bankrupt. She was pretty upset that she never managed to find a home for the whole collection, with everything together, and eventually it was broken up and sold off individually between 2011 and 2014. She was sad about that, and it was unfortunate, but if not for her efforts most of those pieces–even the big, important ones–might have been lost or destroyed decades ago.
Reynolds is survived by her son, Todd Fisher, and her granddaughter, Scream Queens actress Billie Lourde, who is Carrie Fisher’s daughter.