Debbie Reynolds Dead of Broken Heart at Age 84, One Day After Daughter Carrie Fisher Died

It’s true what they say. There is no other love like a mother’s love.

Usually the death of a loved one takes longer to kill you, through depression and other means we don’t completely understand. Debbie Reynolds must have wanted to go quickly.

The story of the Hollywood mother and daughter who died a day apart will go down as a legendary tale of death caused by a broken heart.


Debbie Reynolds, the Oscar-nominated singer-actress who was the mother of late actress Carrie Fisher, has died at Cedars-Sinai hospital. She was 84.

“She wanted to be with Carrie,” her son Todd Fisher told Variety.

She was taken to the hospital from Todd Fisher’s Beverly Hills house Wednesday after a suspected stroke, the day after her daughter Carrie Fisher died.

The vivacious blonde, who had a close but sometimes tempestuous relationship with her daughter, was one of MGM’s principal stars of the 1950s and ’60s in such films as the 1952 classic “Singin’ in the Rain” and 1964’s “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” for which she received an Oscar nomination as best actress.

Reynolds received the SAG lifetime achievement award in January 2015; in August of that year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences voted to present the actress with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the Nov. 14 Governors Awards, but she was unable to attend the ceremony due to an “unexpectedly long recovery from a recent surgery.”

Reynolds had a wholesome girl-next-door look which was coupled with a no-nonsense attitude in her roles. They ranged from sweet vehicles like “Tammy” to more serious fare such as “The Rat Race” and “How the West Was Won.” But amid all the success, her private life was at the center of one of the decade’s biggest scandals when then-husband, singer Eddie Fisher, left her for Elizabeth Taylor in 1958.

Reynolds handled it well personally, but got more tabloid coverage when she divorced her second husband, shoe manufacturer Harry Karl, claiming that he had wiped away all of her money with his gambling. The 1987 novel “Postcards From the Edge,” written by Carrie Fisher, and the film adaptation three years later, were regarded as an embellishment on Reynolds’ up-and-down relationship with her actress daughter. In 1997, Reynolds declared personal bankruptcy after the Debbie Reynolds Hotel & Casino closed after years of financial troubles.

She continued to work well into her 80s, via film and TV work, guesting on “The Golden Girls” and “Roseanne” and drawing an Emmy nomination in 2000 for her recurring role on “Will and Grace” as the latter’s entertainer mother. She also did a number of TV movies, including an almost-unrecognizable turn as Liberace’s mother in Steven Soderbergh’s “Behind the Candelabra” for HBO in 2013. She also frequently did voice work for “Kim Possible” and “Family Guy.”For movie fans, she was always the pert star of movies, TV, nightclubs and Broadway. But to industry people, she was known for her philanthropy, including more than 60 years of working with the organization the Thalians on mental-health care. She was also known for her energetic battles to preserve Hollywood heritage. She bought thousands of pieces when MGM auctioned off its costumes and props, including Marilyn Monroe’s “subway dress” from “The Seven Year Itch,” a Charlie Chaplin bowler hat and a copy of the ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz.” Reynolds spent decades trying to get these items showcased in a museum.

Marie Frances Reynolds was born in El Paso, Texas; when she was 8, her carpenter father moved the family to Burbank. At age 16, “Frannie” entered the Miss Burbank Contest, winning in 1948 for her imitation of Betty Hutton singing “My Rockin’ Horse Ran Away.” She was spotted by Warner Bros. talent scout Solly Baiano, who signed her to a $65-a-week contract. Studio head Jack Warner renamed her Debbie — against her wishes, she said.

Reynolds languished at the studio, often having to perform errands such as escorting visitors on tours or addressing envelopes; she appeared in front of the cameras only for a bit part in “June Bride” and then a flashier role as June Haver’s sister in “The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady.”

When the contract lapsed, MGM picked her up at $300 a week. The studio, where she would reside for the next 20 years, first assigned her a role lip-synching Helen Kane’s voice as the original Betty Boop in the musical “Three Little Words.” In romantic musical “Two Weeks With Love,” she used her own voice to put across “Aba Daba Honeymoon,” and she was also given a supporting role in “Mr. Imperium,” starring Lana Turner.

After the studio insisted on her as the romantic lead in “Singin’ in the Rain,” Gene Kelly put her through rigorous dance training, which she admitted she needed. “They took this virgin talent, this little thing, and expected her to hold her own with Gene and with Donald O’Connor, two of the best dancers in the business,” she once told an interviewer. Many years later, “Singin’ in the Rain” was No. 1 on AFI’s 100 Years of Musicals list, and ranked No. 5 in its 2007 list of the greatest American films.

The biographical obituary goes on to lay out Reynold’s later career and personal life.

8 thoughts on “Debbie Reynolds Dead of Broken Heart at Age 84, One Day After Daughter Carrie Fisher Died

  1. Pingback: Debbie Reynolds Dead of Broken Heart at Age 84, One Day After Daughter Carrie Fisher Died | Afro Futurism

  2. This happens a lot. My in-laws died on the same day, one year apart; and my grandmother passed away 24 hours after hearing that her eldest son had died. The reason I am posting however is for the fact that last week “Singing in the Rain” aired, so I sat down to watch it. I remembered it as good and, although I prefer the 1930s musicals, this one was so upbeat and catchy that I actually enjoyed it. The fact that musicals are no longer a part of the common culture in America is not a very good sign: it means that there is a lack of positive socialization. A confident, growing, proud culture makes musicals like this one. These kind of movies illustrate to us all how great America once was…

    • Right, I’ve posted a few stories here about married couples that died within a few hours of each other.

      Your theory about musicals is interesting and probably right. Debbie Reynolds said that Gene Kelly worked her so hard that her feet bled every day for months because of the grueling rehearsals that he made her do. It’s hard to imagine anyone but a white man demanding that level of perfection.

      • I should hope so. Gene was so physical that he man-handled his women. He only looked great in my opinion when he was around Cyd Charisse. But when you watch “Top Hat” and get the angle that Ginger and Fred had together, you see something more sublime. The 30s had everything set up. It was that fucking war that killed things where we in the West were going, and it still breaks my heart. Still watch the oldies when I have a scotch or two. But then again, a Kubrick film then throws it all into the water. Doing an article on civilization and Jewish “eyes” that I would like you to showcase. Let me know if you want it. I am trying to analyze the West as seen thru Jewish eyes as a form of Black Majick. I believe it will hit a few of your readers sideways and get them to “see” for the first time. Let me know if you are willing to upload it. I will post it first on my site and you can tell me if it fits your roll. Regards,


  3. What a surprising string of events. I don’t wish to speak ill of the dead, we all know these people had their problems. Also, she was better looking than her daughter Carrie (who was still cute), I wonder how that impacted her as a youngster. Anyway, may they both rest in peace. Lots of celebrity deaths this year, and we still have 3 days to go.

  4. I notice men are particularly susceptible to this sort of thing after their wives die. It might take a bit longer than a day, but their health dramatically takes a downturn leading to heart attacks, strokes, or a current medical condition suddenly becomes worse.

    Seems as though the Christmas season is a magnet for deaths. Every year famous people, and people I know. Just lost a friend on December 23.

    Sad to see Debbie Reynolds go. Became familiar with her watching old movies on TCM.

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