Reynolds, Debbie

Reynolds, Debbie, 1932-2016, American actress, singer, and dancer, b. El Paso, Tx., as Mary Frances Reynolds. Reynolds’ family relocated from El Paso to Burbank, Ca., when she was seven years old. She won the Miss Burbank beauty contest in 1948 while still in high school, leading to her being signed to Warner Brothers studio, and then moved to MGM. Her first notable appearance was in Two Weeks with Love (1950), in which she sang “Aba Daba Honeymoon” (#3, Billboard pop charts). This led to her breakout role in Gene Kelly’s satire of early Hollywood, Singin’ in the Rain (1952). She married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955 and the two appeared in the film Bundle of Joy (1956); they divorced in 1959. In the late ‘50s-early ‘60s, she also had several pop hits, most notably “Tammy” (1957, #1 Billboard). She continued to appear in films, including the Cinerama classic, How the West Was Won (1962), and the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). She made her Broadway debut in the revival of the musical Irene (1973), which also featured her daughter Carrie Fisher. She spent much of the next decades appearing on television, including a stint as Bobbi Adler on the sitcom Will and Grace (1999-2006), for which she earned an Emmy Award (2000), and touring in various musical revivals and starring in revues in Las Vegas. She made a notable appearance portraying Albert Brooks’s mother in his film, Mother (1996). Among her awards and honors were the Screen Actors Guild’s Life Achievement Award (2014), and the Oscar’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award (2015).

See her autobiographies (1988, 2013); biography by G. C. Andrews (2013).

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