Debbie Reynolds’ remarkable life

Actress Debbie Reynolds has died aged 84, only a day after losing her daughter Carrie Fisher.

Debbie Reynolds has died, aged 84.

DEBBIE Reynolds was a Hollywood icon whose real life was just as sensational as her on-screen appearances.

The actress, who came to the notice of Hollywood studio MGM after winning a California beauty contest at age 16, died today aged 84, just a day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

Reynolds had never danced professionally, according to IMDB, when she was picked to star opposite Gene Kelly in 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain.

Debbie Reynolds with Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain.

Debbie Reynolds with Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain.Source:News Limited

Several more MGM musicals followed, with Reynolds typically cast as a wholesome young heroine, before her Oscar-nominated turn in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964).

Married three times, Reynolds once said in an interview she had more luck selecting restaurants than men.

She was only briefly married to Carrie Fisher’s father, singer Eddie Fisher, but had to overcome the humiliation of losing him to her best friend and fellow screen icon, Elizabeth Taylor.

Fisher’s marriage to Taylor only lasted four-years and the actress ended up leaving him for Richard Burton.

Reynolds ran into Taylor and Burton on board a cruise ship a few years later and the two ladies put aside their differences and partied together.

Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds in 1958.

Elizabeth Taylor, Eddie Fisher, and Debbie Reynolds in 1958.Source:News Limited

“I invited Elizabeth and Richard to our suite for cocktails and I don’t think we even mentioned Eddie Fisher more than in passing,” Reynolds wrote in her memoir, Unsinkable, “We drank champagne and had a lovely time.”

Reynolds and Taylor remained close until her death in 2011 but Taylor reportedly never forgave herself for what she did to her friend.

“I’m so sorry for what I did to you with Eddie,” Taylor said to Reynolds according to her memoir, “I just feel so awful when I think of how I hurt you and your children.”

But Reynolds was able to forgive and forget, telling Taylor, “That was another lifetime, you and I made up years ago.”

Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds hold their baby daughter, Carrie Frances Fisher, in 1957.

Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds hold their baby daughter, Carrie Frances Fisher, in 1957.Source:AP

In another turn of misfortune, Reynolds’s second husband, shoe magnate Harry Karl, gambled away most of her savings.

Her third marriage to real estate developer Richard Hamlett in 1985 wasn’t much more successful, ending in divorce in 1996.

To support the family, Reynolds took jobs on the stage in Las Vegas, where she had her own casino that housed her extensive collection of memorabilia until it shut in 1997.

The haul is said to have included more than 3000 costumes and 4275 square metres worth of props and equipment.

Reynolds, admired for her versatility, starred in her own sitcom, The Debbie Reynolds Show, in 1969, but it lasted just one season.

The 1970 film, What’s the Matter with Helen? turned out to be the last big screen acting role she would have for some 20 years.

“I didn’t stop making movies. They stopped making me,” Reynolds told The New York Times in 1996.

Reynolds performed on cruise ships and in nightclubs and took to the stage in New York and London. Her 1973 revival of the musical Irene earned her a Tony Award nomination.

The same year she gave voice to Charlotte in the animated feature, Charlotte’s Web.

As the years went on, Reynolds continued to star in TV movies and series.

She played Grace’s mum in Will & Grace and made guest appearances in shows including Roseanne, The Golden Girls and The Love Boat.

Reynolds as Bobbi Adler in Will and Grace.

Reynolds as Bobbi Adler in Will and Grace.Source:Supplied

In fact, during her guest appearance on Roseanne, Reynolds had to wrestle the star of the show in a scene.

She revealed to Roseanne Barr years later on the comedian’s talk show that the rehearsal left her badly injured.

“When we finished rehearsal I went home that night and I realised this whole side hurt,” Reynolds said to Barr on The Roseanne Show, “I went to the doctor and this rib broke.”

“You broke a rib?” a shocked Barr asked.

“Well, no, you broke it!” Reynolds said to the delight of the studio audience.

The legendary entertainer also voiced characters in Family Guy and Rugrats and portrayed Liberace’s mother, Frances, opposite Michael Douglas in 2013’s Behind the Candelabra.

Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, a documentary about her relationship with her daughter, premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and is due to air on HBO in March.

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