Debbie Reynolds, who lit up the screen in “Singin’ in the Rain” and other Hollywood classics despite a tumultuous life, has died a day after losing her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was 84.
Her son, Todd Fisher, said Reynolds died Wednesday.
“She’s now with Carrie and we’re all heartbroken,” Fisher said from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where his mother was taken by ambulance earlier Wednesday.
He said the stress of his sister’s death on Tuesday “was too much” for Reynolds. Carrie Fisher, who was 60, had been hospitalized since Friday.
Debbie Reynolds’ star along the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard.(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
A detail of the poster for Stanley Donen’s “Singin’ in the Rain,” featuring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.(Movie Poster Image Art / Getty Images)
Actress Debbie Reynolds posing for a portrait in New York.(Richard Drew / Associated Press)
Actress Debbie Reynolds appears at Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremonies in Los Angeles.(Wally Fong / Associated Press)
In this April 19, 1955, photo, singer Eddie Fisher and his then-fiancee, actress Debbie Reynolds, look at each other at Idlewild Airport in New York.(Associated Press)
Debbie Reynolds(Warner Brothers)
In this Jan. 2, 1957, photo, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds hold their baby daughter, Carrie Frances Fisher, as they pose for a family photo in Hollywood.(Associated Press)
Debbie Reynolds(Warner Brothers)
Debbie Reynolds photographed in 1951.(Warner Brothers)
Debbie Reynolds in 1961 with her daughter Carrie and son Todd in Montego Bay, Jamaica.(Warner Brothers)
Debbie Reynolds photographed in 1950.(John W. Wilson / John W. Wilson / Los Angeles Times)
Debbie Reynolds in one of the storage rooms where clothes from 41 years in show business were kept in 1988.(Robert Durell / Los Angeles Times)
Debbie Reynolds and her two children, Carrie, 2, and Todd, 8 months, on the set of Reynolds’ new movie, MGM’S “The Mating Game” in 1958.()
Carrie, 3, gives mother Debbie Reynolds a hug after her afternoon nap in their West Los Angeles home.(Ray Graham / Los Angeles Times)
Actress Debbie Reynolds shows $13,900 in U.S. bonds given to her by acting County Clerk W. G. Sharp. in 1953.(Larry Sharkey / Los Angeles Times)
Actress Debbie Reynolds photographed in 1959.(HO / Los Angeles Times)
Debbie Reynolds in 1960, wearing a black sweater top and a pearl necklace.(Hulton Archive / Getty Images)
Debbie Reynolds in 1961.()
In this March 6, 1959, photo, actress Debbie Reynolds boards an airliner in New York en route to Spain, where she would film a new movie.(John Rooney / Associated Press)
Debbie Reynolds appears on the red carpet before the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, where she received a Lifetime Achievement Award, at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on January 25, 2015.(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Actress Debbie Reynolds poses for a portrait in Beverly Hills on May 21, 2013.(Chris Pizzello / Associated Press)
Debbie Reynolds, left, Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly star in the 1952 hit musical “Singin’ in the Rain.”(Warner Bros.)
Debbie Reynolds, dressed for her role in the MGM picture “The Singing Nun,” practices her next scene while watching filming on Nov. 15, 1965.(Associated Press)
Debbie Reynolds, left, and Shelley Winters in 1971’s “What’s the Matter with Helen?”(United Artists)
Debra Messing as Grace Adler, Debbie Reynolds as Bobbie Adler and Eric McCormack as Will Truman in the hit sitcom “Will & Grace.”(Chris Haston / NBC)
Debbie Reynolds, left, Shirley MacLaine, Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Collins star in 2001’s “These Old Broads,” a two-hour ABC comedy written by Carrie Fisher (“Postcards From the Edge”) and Elaine Pope (“Seinfeld”).(ABC)
Carrie Fisher, right, presents her mother, Debbie Reynolds, with the Life Achievement Award at the 21st Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Jan. 25, 2015.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
“She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie,’” her son said. “And then she was gone.”
Reynolds enjoyed the heights of show business success and endured the depths of personal tragedy. She lost one husband to Elizabeth Taylor and two other husbands plundered her for millions. Fisher, who found lasting fame as Princess Leia in “Star Wars” and struggled for much of her life with drug addiction and mental health problems, died after falling ill on a plane.
Reaction to Reynolds’ death was swift.
“Debbie Reynolds, a legend and my movie mom. I can’t believe this happened one day after Carrie,” Albert Brooks, who played opposite Reynolds in “Mother,” said on Twitter.
“I can’t imagine what Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds’ family are going through this week. I send all of my love,” Ellen DeGeneres tweeted.
“Gene Kelly was hard on me, but I think he had to be,” Reynolds, who more than held her own in the movie, said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “I had to learn everything in three to six months. Donald O’Connor had been dancing since he was three months old, Gene Kelly since he was 2 years old.”
The 1964 Meredith Willson musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” with Molly’s defiant song “I Ain’t Down Yet,” brought Reynolds her only Academy Award nomination. She also received a Tony nomination in 1973 for her starring role in the Broadway revival of “Irene,” in which her daughter also appeared.
After her transition from starlet to star, Reynolds became popular with teenage girls and even more so when in 1955 she married Eddie Fisher, the pop singer whose fans were equally devoted.
The couple made a movie together, “Bundle of Joy,” which seemed to mirror the 1956 birth of Carrie. The Fishers also had a son, Todd, named for Eddie’s close friend and Taylor’s husband, showman Mike Todd.
During this period, Reynolds had a No. 1 hit on the pop charts in 1957 with “Tammy,” the Oscar-nominated song from her film “Tammy and the Bachelor.” But the Cinderella story ended after Mike Todd died in a 1958 airplane crash. Fisher consoled the widow and soon announced he was leaving his wife and two children to marry Taylor.
The celebrity world seemed to lose its mind. Taylor was assailed as a husband stealer, Fisher as a deserter. Reynolds won sympathy as the innocent victim, a role emphasized when she appeared before news cameras with diaper pins on her blouse. A cover headline in Photoplay magazine in late 1958 blared: “Smiling through her tears, Debbie says: I’m still very much in love with Eddie.”
Fisher’s singing career never recovered, but Reynolds’ film career flourished. She starred with Glenn Ford in “The Gazebo,” Tony Curtis in “The Rat Race,” Fred Astaire in “The Pleasure of His Company,” Andy Griffith in “The Second Time Around,” with the all-star cast in “How the West Was Won” and Ricardo Montalban in “The Singing Nun.”
She also provided the voice of Charlotte in the 1973 animated “Charlotte’s Web.”
But over the years, her marital woes continued.
Reynolds’ third marriage, to Virginia businessman Richard Hamlett in 1984, proved equally disastrous. In 1992, against friends’ advice, she paid $10 million to buy and convert a faded Las Vegas hotel into the Debbie Reynolds Hotel and Casino. She performed nightly and conducted tours of her movie memorabilia.
Reynolds, who ended up filing for bankruptcy in 1997 and selling the property at auction the next year, accused Hamlett of making off with her money.
“All of my husbands have robbed me blind,” she asserted in 1999. “The only one who didn’t take money was Eddie Fisher. He just didn’t pay for the children.”
In her later years, Reynolds continued performing her show, traveling 40 weeks a year. She also appeared regularly on television, appearing as John Goodman’s mother on “Roseanne” and a mom on “Will & Grace.” Her books included the memoirs “Unsinkable” and “Make ‘Em Laugh.”
In 1996 she won critical acclaim in the title role of Albert Brooks’ movie “Mother.” Reynolds and her daughter were featured together in the HBO documentary “Bright Lights,” scheduled for release in 2017.
William Christopher, who was known as Father Mulcahy on “MASH” from 1972 to 1983, died Dec. 31, 2016. He was 84. Read more.(Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times)
Debbie Reynolds, seen here in 2012, an actress known for the musical “Singin’ in the Rain,” and her Oscar-nominated role in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” died on Dec. 28, 2016, a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, died. Reynolds was 84. Read more.(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Actress Carrie Fisher, who found enduring fame as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars," died on Dec. 27, 2016. She was 60. Read more.(Tracey Nearmy/EPA)
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(Wade Payne / AP)
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Bud Collins, who helped popularize the sport of tennis through his writing and television commentary, died on March 4, 2016, at 86. Collins was a columnist for the Boston Globe for almost 50 years and spent 35 years doing analysis of major tennis tournaments for NBC. Read more.(Gill Allen / AP)
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George Kennedy, center, who won a supporting actor Oscar for his role alongside Paul Newman in the beloved film “Cool Hand Luke,” and was also a fixture of 1970s disaster movies including the “Airport” franchise and “Earthquake,” died Feb. 28, 2016. He was 91. Read more.(AP)
Gil Hill, a former Detroit councilman and police officer who won the role of Eddie Murphy’s foul-mouthed boss in the “Beverly Hills Cop” movies, died on Feb. 29, 2016. He was 84. Read more.(Paramount Pictures via YouTube)
Tony Burton, the veteran character actor best known for brief but memorable appearances as the no-nonsense trainer and cornerman in the first six “Rocky” movies, died Feb. 25, 2016. He was 78. Read more.(Frazer Harrison)
Len Stuart, right, the co-owner and co-chairman of The Second City since 1978, died Feb. 21, 2016. He was 73. Read more.(Second City photo)
Country singer Sonny James, who recorded romantic ballads like “Young Love” and turned pop songs into country hits, died Feb. 22, 2016. He was 87. Read more.(Mark Humphrey / AP)
Peter Mondavi, a wine country innovator who led his family’s Charles Krug Winery through more than a half-century of change died Feb. 20, 2016. He was 101. Read more.(Eric Risberg / AP)
Umberto Eco, an Italian novelist and intellectual of worldwide renown who imbued his work with humor and scholarship and whose novel “The Name of the Rose” became a global phenomenon, died Feb. 19, 2016. He was 84. Read more.(Tina Fineberg / Associated Press / For Tribune Newspapers)
Harper Lee, the elusive novelist whose child’s-eye view of racial injustice in a small Southern town, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” became standard reading for millions of young people and an Oscar-winning film, died Feb. 19, 2016. She was 89. Read more.(Rob Carr / AP 2007)
Angela Raiola, known as Big Ang, known for the reality TV series “Mob Wives” died Feb. 18, 2016, following a nearly yearlong battle with cancer. Read more.(Charles Sykes / AP)
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a veteran Egyptian diplomat who helped negotiate his country’s landmark peace deal with Israel but then clashed with the United States when he served a single term as U.N. secretary-general, died Feb. 16, 2016. He was 93. Read more.(Cris Bouroncle / AFP/Getty Images)
Denise Matthews, the singer who fronted Vanity 6 and collaborated with Prince, has died at the age of 57. Read more.(Ron Wolfson / WireImage)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the intellectual cornerstone of the court’s modern conservative wing, whose elegant and acidic opinions inspired a movement of legal thinkers and ignited liberal critics, died Feb. 13. He was 79. Read more.(Peter Foley / EPA)
John Tishman, center, a builder whose company has worked on some of the most high-profile developments in the country, died Feb. 6, 2016. He was 90 years old.(Bebeto Matthews / AP)
Maurice White, whose sweeping compositions for the group he founded, Earth, Wind & Fire, encompassed jazz, soul, gospel, blues, Latin and African music, died Feb. 4, 2016. He was 74. Read more.(Matt Sayles / AP)
Bob Elliott, right, was one half of the comedy team of Bob and Ray with Bob Goulding, left. Elliott died Feb. 3, 2016. He was 92. Read more.(NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
French New Wave director Jacques Rivette, who often explored the blurry line between reality and fantasy in a career spanning six decades and more than 20 features, died Jan. 29, 2016. He was 87. Read more.(Damien Meyer/ AFP/Getty Images)
Paul Kantner, a founding member of the Jefferson Airplane who stayed with the seminal San Francisco band through its transformation from 1960s hippies to 1970s hit makers as the eventual leader of successor group Jefferson Starship, died Jan. 28, 2016. He was 74. Read more.(Shawn Baldwin / AP)
Character actor Abe Vigoda, known for his roles in “The Godfather” and the television series “Barney Miller,” died Jan. 26, 2016. He was 94. Read more.(Jon Simon / AP)
Glenn Frey, who co-founded the Eagles — one of the most commercially successful bands of the last half-century — and left behind a trove of indelible melodies including 17 Top-40 hits died Jan. 18, 2016. He was 67. Read more(Dan Steinberg / AP)
Dan Haggerty, best known for his role in “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” died from cancer Jan. 15, 2016. He was 74. Read more.(Getty Images)
David Bowie, the innovative and iconic singer whose illustrious career lasted five decades, died Jan. 10, 2016, after battling cancer for 18 months. He was 69. Read more.(Ron Frehm / AP)
Pat Harrington Jr., an actor and comedian who portrayed the farcically macho building superintendent Dwayne Schneider in “One Day at a Time,” died Jan. 6, 2016. He was 86. Read more.(Handout)
Former New York Philharmonic principal conductor Pierre Boulez, who moved between conducting, composition and teaching over a long career that made him one of the leading figures in modern classical music, died Jan. 5, 2016. He was 90. Read more.(Christophe Ena / AP)
Impresario Robert Stigwood, who managed the Bee Gees and produced 1970s blockbusters “Grease” and “Saturday Night Fever,” died Jan. 4, 2016. He was 81. Read more.
(Steve Morley / Redferns)
Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, revered as one of the most influential cinematographers in film history for his work on several classic films, including “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “The Deer Hunter,” died Jan. 1, 2016. He was 85. Read more.(Tamas Kovacs / EPA)
(Mary Altaffer / AP)
Mary Frances Reynolds spent the first eight years of her life in Depression-era poverty in El Paso, Texas, where she was born on April 1, 1932. Her father, a carpenter for the Southern Pacific Railroad, was transferred to California and the family settled in Burbank, near Warner Bros. studio.
The girl flourished, winning 48 Girl Scout merit badges, excelling in sports and playing French horn and bass viola in the Burbank Youth Symphony. Girlfriends persuaded her to enter the beauty contest for Miss Burbank, and she won over the judges.
Eventually, she teamed up with Taylor — long since divorced from Fisher — and two other veterans, Joan Collins and MacLaine, for the 2001 TV movie “These Old Broads.” The script, co-written by Reynolds’ daughter, was about aging, feuding actresses who get together for a reunion show. Reynolds would look back wryly on the Taylor affair, acknowledging that no man could have resisted her and that she actually voted for Taylor when she was up for best actress in 1960. The former romantic rivals had reconciled years before Taylor died in 2011; Reynolds recalled they had both been passengers on the Queen Elizabeth.
“I sent a note to her and she sent a note to me in passing, and then we had dinner together,” she told The Huffington Post a few months after Taylor’s death. “She was married to Richard Burton by then. I had been remarried at that point. And we just said, ‘Let’s call it a day.’ And we got smashed. And we had a great evening, and stayed friends since then.”
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 honor.
“I’m so sorry that I’m sick, but I am thrilled beyond words, shocked, and you couldn’t be more amazed that a little girl from Burbank even came near this sort of accolade,” she said in a pre-recorded statement.
She was recognized for her decades-long commitment to various charities, including the mental-health organization she founded, the Thalians.