Debbie Reynolds, the actress who shot to fame in the classic 1952 musical Singing In The Rain, died earlier today in Los Angeles of an apparent stroke. Her daughter, Star Wars icon Carrie Fisher, passed away only yesterday from complications of a heart attack she had suffered the day before Christmas. Reynolds was 84.
Although she had appeared in small roles in a handful of films before, being cast as Kathy Selden, a chorus girl who falls for movie star Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) at the time talking pictures were beginning to appear in the MGM musical Singing In The Rain is what first brought her to the public’s attention. In addition to showing off comedic, dramatic and singing skills, Reynolds learned to dance for the movie, with a five-month crash course getting her up to speed so she was the equal of her more experienced co-stars Kelly and Donald O’Connor.
MGM was quick to capitalize on Reynolds’ new popularity by casting her in a number of films including The Affairs of Dobie Gillis, Susan Slept Here, The Tender Trap and Tammy And The Bachelor for which she won a gold record for singing the movie’s theme song.
While her career kept her in the public eye, Reynolds’ private life was often anything but private. Her marriage to singer and actor Eddie Fisher was shattered when he ran off with her friend Elizabeth Taylor. The affair was fodder for fan magazines and tabloids for months. The betrayal was especially hurt as Reynolds had helped look after Taylor’s children after Taylor’s second husband, Michael Todd, had perished in a plane crash.
Additional films include How the West Was Won, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, The Singing Nun and Albert Brooks’ 1996 comedy Mother.
In 2014, Reynolds received a Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild. Two years later she was awarded an honorary Academy Award for her charitable work on behalf of mental illness.