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Former Miss Burbank goes Hollywood

Laura Sturza

Hometown beauty queen Debbie Reynolds added another accolade to her

mantel when the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce presented her with its

Lifetime Achievement Award.


“She was and still is a great star,” chamber President Leron

Gubler said. “She was an early supporter of the Hollywood

Entertainment Museum.”

Since 1970, Reynolds -- who was named Miss Burbank 1948 -- has


dreamed of preserving the legacy of American films by collecting

costumes and sets, many that she said she purchased at auctions from

major studios. She hopes to open in the 20,000-square-foot building

behind Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 2004.

“The museum would be a history from the silent screen to today,

primarily focusing on the Academy Award-winning films and [America’s]

most popular films,” Reynolds said.

Her collection features more than 3,500 pieces of film


memorabilia, costumes and props. They include the red slippers worn

by Judy Garland in “The Wizard of Oz” and Marilyn Monroe’s dress from

“The Seven Year Itch.”

Developing the museum is her way to “give something back” to the

industry and her fans, Reynolds said.

The chamber is responsible for the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on

which Reynolds has a star. The group also holds the trademark for the

Hollywood sign, Gubler said.


“We probably have the greatest visibility of any chamber in the

world,” Gubler said.

After 54 years in the business, the 71-year-old star remains in

high gear. While securing financing for the museum, she is performing

nationally in a concert that has her impersonating other stars

including Barbra Streisand, and singing the songs of George Gershwin

and Stephen Sondheim.

She also keeps track of her school, the Debbie Reynolds

Professional Rehearsal Studio in North Hollywood, which offers

rehearsal space and dance and acting classes for beginners to


The star speaks fondly of her former hometown, and said her

brother still lives in Burbank.

“I may move back there because I still own a house there,”

Reynolds said.