Debbie Reynolds

Actresses

Mary Frances “Debbie” Reynolds (April 1, 1932 – December 28, 2016) was an American actress, singer, and businesswoman. Her career spanned almost 70 years. She was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Newcomer for her portrayal of Helen Kane in Richard Thorpe’s Three Little Words (1950), with Fred Astaire, Red Skelton, Vera-Ellen, Arlene Dahl. Her breakout role was her first leading role, as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain (1952), with Gene Kelly (who also co-directed with Stanley Donen), Donald O’Connor, Jean Hagen, Millard Mitchell, and Cyd Charisse.

Her other successes include Don Weis’s The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953), with Bobby Van, Barbara Ruick, Bob Fosse, Hanley Stafford, and Hans Conried; Frank Tashlin’s Susan Slept Here (1954), with Dick Powell and Anne Francis; Norman Taurog’s Bundle of Joy (1956), with Eddie Fisher (who she was married to at the time) and and Adolphe Menjou; Richard Brooks’s The Catered Affair (1956), with Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Barry Fitzgerald and Rod Taylor; and Joseph Pevney’s Tammy and the Bachelor (1957), with Walter Brennan, Leslie Nielsen, and Mala Powers; in which her performance of the song “Tammy” reached number one on the Billboard music charts; In 1959, she released her first pop music album, titled Debbie.

Other notable films in the 1950s include Athena (1954), with Jane Powell, Edmund Purdom, Vic Damone, Louis Calhern, Steve Reeves, and Evelyn Varden; Hit the Deck (1955), with Jane Powell, Tony Martin, Walter Pidgeon, Damone, Gene Raymond, Ann Miller, and Russ Tamblyn; The Tender Trap (1955), with Frank Sinatra, David Wayne, and Celeste Holm; Blake Edwards’ This Happy Feeling (1958), with John Saxon, Curt Jurgens, Alexis Smith, and Mary Astor; George Marshall‘s The Mating Game (1959), with Randall and Paul Douglas; Say One for Me (1959), with Bing Crosby and Robert Wagner; It Started with a Kiss (1959), with Glenn Ford, Eva Gabor, Edgar Buchanan, and Harry Morgan; and The Gazebo (1959), with Ford, Carl Reiner, and John McGiver.

Reynolds was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for Charles Walters’s The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), with Harve Presnell and Ed Begley; a biographical film about the famously boisterous socialite. Other films in the 1960’s include The Rat Race (1960), with Tony Curtis, Jack Oakie, whe Don Rickles; The Pleasure of His Company (1961), with Astaire, Lilli Palmer, and Tab Hunter; The Second Time Around (1961), with Andy Griffith and Steve Forrest; How the West Was Won (1962), with Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Henry Fonda, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, James Stewart, Eli Wallach, John Wayne, and Richard Widmark; My Six Loves (1963), with Cliff Robertson; Mervyn LeRoy’s Mary, Mary (1963), with Barry Nelson; Vincente Minnelli‘s Goodbye Charlie (1964), with Curtis, Walter Matthau, and Pat Boone; Henry Koster‘s The Singing Nun (1966), with Ricardo Montalbán, Greer Garson, Katharine Ross, Chad Everett, and Ed Sullivan; Bud Yorkin’s Divorce American Style (1967), with Dick Van Dyke, Jason Robards, Jean Simmons, and Van Johnson; and How Sweet It Is! (1968), with James Garner, Terry-Thomas. and Paul Lynde.

Other films include Curtis Harrington’s What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971), Shelley Winters, Dennis Weaver, Agnes Moorehead, and Micheál MacLiammóir; Oliver Stone‘s Heaven & Earth (1993), with Tommy Lee Jones, Haing S. Ngor, Joan Chen, and Hiep Thi Le; Mother (1996), with Albert Brooks (who also directed), and Frank Oz‘s In & Out (1997), with Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Matt Dillon, Wilford Brimley, Shalom Harlow, Bob Newhart, and Tom Selleck. She’s also cameoed as herself in The Bodyguard (1992), with Kevin Costner, Whitney Houston, Gary Kemp, Bill Cobbs, and Ralph Waite; Wedding Bell Blues (1996), with Illeana Douglas, Paulina Porizkova, Julie Warner, John Corbett, Jonathan Penner, Charles Martin Smith, and Stephanie Beacham; and Connie and Carla (2004), with Nia Vardalos, Toni Collette, and David Duchovny.

Reynolds also voiced in the animated films Charlotte’s Web (1973), with Henry Gibson; the Disney 1998 English dub of Hayao Miyazaki‘s Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989), with Kirsten Dunst, Phil Hartman, and Janeane Garofalo; Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (1998), with Kathleen Barr, John Goodman, Eric Idle, Cathy Weseluck, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Simmons and Newhart; and Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000), with Susan Sarandon; John Lithgow, and Mako.

Reynolds was also a cabaret performer. In 1979, she founded the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in North Hollywood, which still operates today. In 1969, she starred on television in The Debbie Reynolds Show, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. In 1973, Reynolds starred in a Broadway revival of the musical Irene and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical. She was also nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance in A Gift of Love (1999) and an Emmy Award for playing Grace’s mother Bobbi on Will & Grace. At the turn of the millennium, Reynolds reached a new, younger generation with her role as Aggie Cromwell in Disney’s Halloweentown series. In 1988, she released her autobiography, titled Debbie: My Life. In 2013, she released a second autobiography, Unsinkable: A Memoir.

Reynolds also had several business ventures, including ownership of a dance studio and a Las Vegas hotel and casino, and she was an avid collector of film memorabilia, beginning with items purchased at the landmark 1970 MGM auction. She served as president of The Thalians, an organization dedicated to mental-health causes. Reynolds continued to perform successfully on stage, television, and film into her 80s. In January 2015, Reynolds received the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award. In 2016, she received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. In the same year, a documentary about her life was released titled Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, which turned out to be her final film appearance; the film premiered on HBO on January 7, 2017. She died following a stroke on December 28, 2016, one day after the death of her daughter, fellow actress Carrie Fisher. Her granddaughter, Billie Lourd, is also an actress.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • June Bride (1948) – directed by Bretaigne Windust – uncredited
  • The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady (1950) – directed by David Butler
  • Three Little Words (1950) – directed by Richard Thorpe
  • Two Weeks with Love (1950) – directed by Roy Rowland
  • Mr. Imperium (1951) – directed by Don Hartman
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952)** – directed by Gene Kelly & Stanley Donen
  • Skirts Ahoy! (1952) – directed by Sidney Lanfield – uncredited cameo
  • I Love Melvin (1953) – directed by Don Weis
  • The Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953) – directed by Don Weis
  • Give a Girl a Break (1953) – directed by Stanley Donen
  • Susan Slept Here (1954) – directed by Frank Tashlin
  • Athena (1954) – directed by Richard Thorpe
  • Hit the Deck (1955) – directed by Roy Rowland
  • The Tender Trap (1955) – directed by Charles Walters
  • Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956) – directed by Roy Rowland – uncredited cameo
  • The Catered Affair (1956) – directed by Richard Brooks
  • Bundle of Joy (1956) – directed by Norman Taurog
  • Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) – directed by Joseph Pevne
  • This Happy Feeling (1958) – directed by Blake Edwards
  • The Mating Game (1959) – directed by George Marshall
  • Say One for Me (1959) – directed by Frank Tashlin
  • It Started with a Kiss (1959) – directed by George Marshall
  • The Gazebo (1959) – directed by George Marshall
  • The Rat Race (1960) – directed by Robert Mulligan
  • Pepe (1960) – directed by George Sidney – cameo as herself
  • The Pleasure of His Company (1961) – directed by George Seaton
  • The Second Time Around (1961) – directed by Vincent Sherman
  • How the West Was Won (1962) – directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway, & George Marshall
  • My Six Loves (1963) – directed by Gower Champion
  • Mary, Mary (1963) – directed by Mervyn LeRoy
  • The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) – directed by Charles Walters
  • Goodbye Charlie (1964) – directed by Vincente Minnelli
  • The Singing Nun (1966) – directed by Henry Koster
  • Divorce American Style (1967) – directed by Bud Yorkin
  • How Sweet It Is! (1968) – directed by Jerry Paris
  • Debbie Reynolds and the Sound of Children (1969) – self – TV movie
  • What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) – directed by Curtis Harrington
  • Charlotte’s Web (1973) – directed by Charles A. Nichols & Iwao Takamoto
  • Busby Berkeley (1974) – documentary
  • That’s Entertainment! (1974) – directed by Jack Haley Jr. – compilation film – archive footage
  • Sadie and Son (1987) – TV movie
  • Perry Mason: The Case of the Musical Murder (1989) – directed by Christian I. Nyby II – TV movie
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)** – directed by Hayao Miyazaki – English dub
  • Battling for Baby (1992) – TV movie
  • The Bodyguard (1992) – directed by Mick Jackson – cameo as herself
  • Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul (1993) – herself – documentary
  • Heaven & Earth (1993) – directed by Oliver Stone
  • That’s Entertainment! III (1994) – directed by Bud Friedgen & Michael J. Sheridan – compilation film – archive footage
  • Mother (1996) – directed by Albert Brooks
  • Wedding Bell Blues (1996) – directed by Dana Lustig – cameo as herself
  • In & Out (1997) – directed by Frank Oz
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) – directed by Terry Gilliam – voice cameo
  • Zack and Reba (1998) – directed by Nicole Bettauer
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie (1998) – directed by William R. Kowalchuk
  • Halloweentown (1998) – directed by Duwayne Dunham – TV movie
  • The Christmas Wish (1998) – directed by Ian Barry – TV movie
  • A Gift of Love: The Daniel Huffman Story (1999) – directed by John Korty – TV movie
  • Keepers of the Frame (1999) – directed by Mark McLaughlin – herself – documentary
  • Rugrats in Paris: The Movie (2000)* – directed by Stig Bergqvist & Paul Demeyer
  • Virtual Mom (2000) – TV movie
  • These Old Broads (2001) – directed by Matthew Diamond – TV movie
  • Halloweentown II: Kalabar’s Revenge (2001) – directed by Mary Lambert – TV movie
  • Cinerama Adventure (2002) – directed by David Strohmaier – self – documentary
  • Generation Gap (2002) – TV movie
  • Connie and Carla (2004) – directed by Michael Lembeck – cameo as herself
  • Halloweentown High (2004) – directed by Mark A.Z. Dippé – TV movie
  • Return to Halloweentown (2006) – directed by David Jackson – TV movie
  • Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project (2007) – directed by John Landis – self – documentary
  • Light of Olympia (2008) – directed by San Wei Chan
  • The Jill & Tony Curtis Story (2008) – directed by Ian Ayres – self – documentary
  • The Brothers Warner (2008) – directed by Cass Warner Sperling – self – documentary
  • Fay Wray: A Life (2008) – self – documentary
  • One for the Money (2012) – directed by Julie Anne Robinson
  • In the Picture (2012) – directed by David Strohmaier – short
  • Behind the Candelabra (2013) – directed by Steven Soderbergh – TV movie
  • Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (2016) – directed by Alexis Bloom & Fisher Stevens – TV documentary