Carrie Fisher was royalty both on and off screen. She was the progeny of two 1950’s celebrities and one of the most successful actresses of the time period: her mother, Debbie Reynolds. Debbie passed today hours after her daughter’s own death.
Reynolds was one of the last living stars of Old Hollywood. She was into gymnastics as a teenager and entered a beauty pageant in hopes of getting a free lunch. Instead she was discovered on the stage and hired by MGM, making her debut in Three Little Words before becoming a superstar with 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain. Despite her athletic background, Reynolds found the work wearying, remarking later that “The two hardest things I ever did in my life are childbirth and Singin’ In The Rain’.”
That child was daughter Carrie, which she sired with the help of then-husband, singing sensation Eddie Fisher. Unfortunately this is where things take a bad turn: Fisher left Reynolds not long after to become Elizabeth Taylor’s fourth husband, making Reynolds a single working mother of two. She continued to act through the 1950s and 1960’s, at one point losing all her money to a shoe tycoon with a gambling problem (husband #2, until 1973).
Reynolds and her daughter had a lot in common: they’d both been chewed up and spat out repeatedly by the Hollywood machine, yet refused to ever give up. They remained close friends and lived next door to each other until the very end. Though the exact cause of death hasn’t been released at the time of this writing, most likely the sheer weight of losing Carrie pushed Debbie’s 84-year-old body over the edge.
By sheer coincidence, HBO has been producing a documentary about the relationship between Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds for the past few months, with interviews and comments from each. Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds And Carrie Fisher is scheduled to make its bittersweet debut in early 2017.