Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Unsinkable Debbie Reynolds

Carrie Fisher watches her mother on stage

Debbie Reynolds had been one of those constant presences, like Betty White, that you just couldn't imagine leaving us.  There aren't many links left to the golden age of Hollywood, and few were as glorious as Debbie -- a woman who could do it all.   One of her most memorable roles was that of The Unsinkable Molly Brown, which I remember watching as a child.  It was a mixture of music, dance and drama, which was the staple of Hollywood for so many years.  Here she is lighting up the dance floor with Grover Dale and Gus Trikonis in one of the earlier scenes in the movie before the Titanic found its iceberg.

For her daughter, Carrie Fisher, it must have been very hard to follow in the footsteps of a mom like that.  Wisely, she charted her own course, even if she could never live down that gold bikini in Star Wars.  To see her go earlier in the week was hard on all her fans, but much harder on Debbie, who obviously couldn't bear the emotional weight of the loss of her daughter.

Debbie did so many things over her long illustrious career that it is hard to know where to begin.  She could sing, she could dance, she could act, she could light up your day with just a smile.  Her tumultuous romance with Eddie Fisher gave us Carrie Fisher, whose trademark acerbic humor was largely lost in Star Wars, but perfect in such movies as Blue Brothers and Hannah and Her Sisters.  It's too bad really that she will always be remembered as Princess Leia.

No one role defined Debbie.  In her later years, she took on numerous mother roles, most notably for Mother, in which she had to deal with her son, who decides to move back into her house to unlock the secrets of the past, setting up a perfect comic situation for her and Albert Brooks.   She also had numerous appearances on Will and Grace, as Grace's mother.  In many ways, she had become everyone's favorite Mom, but no relationship was dearer to her than that between her and Carrie.

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