Legendary entertainer, Debbie Reynolds, died on Wednesday, December 28, 2016 at the age of 84. Her death comes just one day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died of a heart attack. Reynolds was known for famed performances in movies like ‘Singing in the Rain.’
Born April 1, 1932 as Mary Frances Reynolds down El Paso way in Texas, Debbie was the second child of Raymond Francis Reynolds and Maxine Harman Reynolds. In 1939, her family would spread their wings in a move to Burbank, California. It was here that she began her show business career. At the age sixteen, Debbie won the local “Miss Burbank” beauty pageant. The win would earn a motion picture contract with Warner Brothers and a subsequent contract with MGM. During this time, Debbie would also take on her ‘showbiz’ first name, ‘Debbie’.
She married Philadelphia crooner and heart throb, Eddie Fisher, in 1955. By 1959, though Debbie reigned as one of the 10 top box office stars, her marriage had ended in a soap opera triangle introducing Elizabeth Taylor as the other woman. As a result of the union, Debbie gave birth to daughter, Carrie, an inordinately talented actress, and a son, Todd Fisher.
Debbie has appeared on countless television programs and starred in numerous stage musicals to include ‘Annie Get Your Gun’, ‘Irene’ and ‘Woman of the Year’. Debbie performed her own incredible nightclub act in every major city in America, Australia, and England. At the time of her death, Debbie was still bringing in the crowds while on the road performing in nightclubs and theaters.
As a movie buff, collector of film memorabilia and actively involved in preservation of Hollywood memorabilia since the late 1960’s, Debbie amassed a time capsule of history…gathering thousands of costumes, props and mementos of Hollywood’s studios and their greatest stars from all the major studios. She has been considered one of the most knowledgeable collectors in the field, quick on her feet and at the right place during the right time.
In 1972 Debbie Reynolds formed the Hollywood Motion Picture Museum, a nonprofit corporation, containing the largest collection of Hollywood movie memorabilia in the world. The collection was housed at the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel and Casino resort half a block off the Las Vegas Strip. The combined hotel, casino, nightclub, and memorabilia museum was opened in 1993 and was a thoroughly original concept that sparkled and glittered while oozing movie history. Little wonder that Debbie was the complexs’ featured performer. Do they get any better than her?
By 1997, the Resort was forced to file for bankruptcy. When the museum in Las Vegas closed, Reynolds had planned to relocate the museum to Pigeon Forge, TN. near Dolly Parton’s famed “Dollywood”. However, last year, Reynolds’ son, Todd Fisher, said the project had to file for bankruptcy protection and the astounding invaluable collection would be sold to satisfy creditors during a public auction, ‘Debbie Reynolds: The Auction’. The collection is so large and comprehensive that the public auction of items was in progress over a period of at least 2 years.
One of the iconic pieces, from Debbie’s collection was the white dress Marilyn Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch. More treasures for sale have included, garments designed by Travilla, Travis Banton and Edith Head who were some of the industry’s most prolific costume designers of their times. Making these items more valuable are the film icons who wore them to include…Marilyn Monroe, Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, Charlton Heston, Bette Davis, Gene Kelly, and Richard Burton.
In June, 2011, the first of two auctions…the dress worn by iconic Marilyn Monroe in the 1955 movie, ‘The Seven Year Itch’, sold for a record $4.6 million at an auction of film memorabilia.
The timing of Reynold’s death is yet another twist and turn in the incredible life of a resilient woman who will be forever loved by a legion of fans and admirers.