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Debbie Reynolds, Classic Film Legend, Has Died at Age 84

Debbie Reynolds, Classic Film Legend, Has Died at Age 84

Still reeling from the loss of our General, the wonderful Carrie Fisher, we here at Nerdist are saddened to report on another loss merely a day later. The Los Angeles Times reports that Fisher’s mother, the great classic film star Debbie Reynolds, has died at age 84.

For those who may be unfamiliar with Reynolds’ remarkable story, she leaves behind an extensive body of work to appreciate. At the tender age of 18, she was plucked out of obscurity by Louie B. Mayer, the head of MGM, to star opposite dancer/actor/singer Gene Kelly in 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain. Kelly originally objected to Reynolds’ casting at first, wanting a professional dancer cast opposite him in the role. A testament to Reynolds’ tireless work ethic, she spent three months rehearsing in the role. A now famous classic Hollywood story, Reynolds danced so hard with Kelly that her feet would bleed. In her 1988 autobiography Reynolds famously said, “Singin’ in the Rain’ and childbirth were the hardest things I ever had to do in my life.” Of course, Reynolds more than held her own on screen in scenes with Kelly and actor Donald O’Connor, who were huge stars at the time. The movie was a box-office hit, and catapulted Reynolds to stardom. These 64 years later, Singin’ in the Rain is widely considered one of the greatest and most beloved films of all-time.

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After Singin’ in the Rain, Reynolds went on to nab roles in many films that would likewise become regarded as classics. Included are 1962’s How the West Was Won, followed by the film version of the musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown, in which she played the aptly described title character; the part earned Reynolds an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress that year. Shortly afterward, Reynolds landed own NBC show, The Debbie Reynolds Show, which ran for one season in 1969.

Many children of the ’70s will forever recognize her as the voice of Charlotte in 1973’s Charlotte’s Web. After a bit of a hiatus from the big screen, Reynolds reaffirmed her comedic prowess streak in the ’90s by playing the titular matriarch in Albert Brooks’ Mother, Kevin Kline’s mom in the hilarious In & Out, and guesting on TV shows such as Golden Girls and Will & Grace.

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For those of us who grew up on Disney Channel original movies, we’ll remember Debbie Reynolds as the magical Aggie Cromwell in the Halloweentown films. She was warm, witty, tender, and dazzling. These films formed the foundations of many millenials’ childhoods, and served as an astounding intoduction to Reynolds to a whole new generation. In addition to her film work, she was also a huge figure in the fight for film preservation. When MGM Studios auctioned off their costumes and props, Reynolds purchased Marilyn Monroe’s infamous white dress from The Seven Year Itch, one of Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hats, and a pair of the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz.

She spent numerous decades fighting to preserve artifacts of Hollywood history in museums. Reynolds, like her daughter, also devoted her time to several mental health causes. Reynolds’ relationship with her daughter, next door neighbor, and best friend Carrie was chronicled in the documentary Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, which will release in 2017. The pair’s relationship was famously depicted in Fisher’s novel Postcards from the Edge, and the film adaptation thereof, in which Shirley MacLaine and Meryl Streep portrayed mother and daughter.

We here at Nerdist are incredible saddened by this enormous loss, and will miss Reynolds greatly. The incredible legacy she leaves behind will live on, delighting new audiences around the world. Our hearts and best wishes go out to the Reynolds’ and Fisher’s family.

Featured Image: MGM Studios; Paramount Pictures

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