Debbie Reynolds, a leading lady in Hollywood musicals and comedies in the 1950s and 1960s including “Singin’ in the Rain,” died on Wednesday shortly after saying she wanted to be with her daughter Carrie Fisher. The 84-year-old Oscar-nominated singer-actress passed away hours after being rushed to the Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke, her son, Todd Fisher said. Her death came just one day after her daughter Carrie, the 60-year-old actress best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, died of a heart attack. He said the stress of his sister’s death “was too much” for Reynolds. “She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie’,” Mr Fisher added. “And then she was gone.” Reynolds had fallen ill at her son’s home in Beverly Hills, according to celebrity website TMZ. They were reportedly discussing funeral plans for Fisher. Joely Fisher, Carrie’s half sister and also an actress, had taken to Twitter to wish Reynolds well before the death was announced.
Reynolds was a superstar early in life. After two minor roles at Warner Bros. and three supporting roles at MGM, studio boss Louis B. Mayer cast her in “Singin’ in the Rain” in 1952, despite Gene Kelly’s objections. She was 19 with little dance experience, and she would be appearing with two of the screen’s greatest dancers, Donald O’Connor and Kelly, who also co-directed. She was nominated for a best actress Oscar for her role in the 1964 musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, which was based on the life of a Colorado woman who rose from poverty to riches and triumphed over tragedy, including the sinking of the Titanic. Reynolds received an honorary Oscar in 2015, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, but was too ill to attend the ceremony. Her granddaughter, actress Billie Lourd, accepted the statuette in her honour. She also received a lifetime achievement award from the Screen Actors Guild that year.
Reynolds also has several hit records to her name, and topped the charts with the 1957 song “Tammy” from the film “Tammy and the Bachelor”. She was married to Eddie Fisher, the singer and actor, from 1955 to 1959, and together they had two children- Carrie and Todd Fisher. Fisher left Reynolds to marry Elizabeth Taylor, the actress, and Reynolds was married and divorced twice afterward. In 1973 Reynolds starred in a Broadway revival of the musical Irene and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. In 1969 she starred in her own television show The Debbie Reynolds Show, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. She was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance in A Gift of Love (1999) and an Emmy Award for playing Grace’s mother Bobbi on Will & Grace. Reynolds was a noted businesswoman, having operated her own hotel in Las Vegas. She was also a collector of film memorabilia, beginning with the landmark 1970 MGM auction. She was the former president of The Thalians, an organization dedicated to mental health causes. Reynolds continued to perform successfully on stage, television, and film into her eighties. In January 2015, Reynolds received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. In August 2015, it was announced Reynolds would be the recipient of the 2016 Academy Awards Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.