Debbie Reynolds, the actress and singer who shot to superstardom in the 1950s only to watch her daughter do the same just 20 years later, has died. She was 84.
The actress was reportedly visiting with her son Todd Fisher planning funeral arrangements for her daughter when she suffered the medical emergency and an ambulance was called. The Los Angeles County Fire Department told CNN at the time that the patient they took from Fisher’s residence was listed as “fair to serious,” but wouldn’t provide any other information.
Understandably, Reynolds was devastated by the sudden death of her daughter, who suffered what was said to be a heart attack while flying back from London on Friday. While Fisher held on over the Christmas holiday, she quietly passed away Tuesday, a day after Reynolds told fans her daughter was “stable.”
Soon after her passing, Reynolds released a statement thanking “everyone who has embraced the gifts and talents of my beloved and amazing daughter. I am grateful for your thoughts and prayers that are now guiding her to her next stop.”
Mary Frances Reynolds was born April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas. Her father was a carpenter in Texas, and she was raised in what was described as a very strict Nazarene church household.
Reynolds’ family moved to Burbank, California, when she was just 7, and won a local beauty contest when she was 16. It didn’t take long for Warner Bros. to notice the up-and-coming actress, signing her to a contract, making her a regular in the various musical films the studio put out. But it was in 1952 she got her real fame, singing and dancing alongside Gene Kelly in what would become the classic Singin’ in the Rain.
However, Reynolds’ off-screen life became almost as famous as her on-screen one. She married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955, producing two children – Carrie and Todd. The couple were close friends with another celebrity duo, producer Mike Todd and his superstar wife, Elizabeth Taylor.
When Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958, Eddie Fisher would rush to console Taylor – a consolation that would turn into an affair and destroy his marriage with Reynolds. It was one of the biggest Hollywood scandals of all time, some say trumped only by the Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston-Angelina Jolie triangle of the early 2000s.
After their divorce, Reynolds would marry millionaire businessman Harry Karl, who would not only lose all of his money, but all of Reynolds’ money as well, to the point where she reportedly lived out of her car for a short period of time.
Reynolds would spend a good part of her later life collecting Hollywood memorabilia, many of which she included in museums she maintained in California.
However, the museum went bankrupt in 2009, and Reynolds was forced to auction the costumes that were said to be valued at just under $11 million.
Among the items she owned were Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat, and the white “subway” dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in 1955’s The Seven Year Itch, which sold for auction at $4.6 million.
Reynolds earned an Oscar nomination in 1965 for The Unsinkable Molly Brown in an award that instead went to Julie Andrews for Mary Poppins. She earned an Emmy nomination in 2000 for a guest spot on the NBC comedy Will & Grace. That award instead went to Jean Smart for Frasier.
She was preceded in death by her first two husbands, Fisher and Karl, as well as her daughter, Carrie Fisher. She is survived by her son, as well as a granddaughter, Scream Queens star Billie Lourd.
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