Debbie Reynolds tragically died of a stroke on Wednesday, December 28, at the age of 84, just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed away, but her legend lives on.
The iconic Singin’ in the Rain star was known for much so more than being the Star Wars actress’ mother, and to remember her, Us Weekly has listed 10 things you may not have known about her.
1. Her career started in 1948, when at 16 years old she won the Miss Burbank beauty pageant in California. She was spotted by Warner Bros. scouts and offered a $65-a-week contract. She later admitted she had only entered the competition because of the free scarf and blouse being offered to contestants.
2. She was born Mary Frances Reynolds, but Jack Warner changed her name. “I didn’t want to be called Debbie, but that’s the name Jack Warner gave me,” she said once, according to the Los Angeles Times.
3. Her breakout role was in the 1952 movie Singin’ in the Rain, but she once said of the part, which left her feet bleeding as she tried to keep up with her costar Gene Kelly, “Singin’ in the Rain and childbirth were the hardest things I ever had to do in my life.”
4. Her first husband, Eddie Fisher — Carrie’s father — left her for her good friend Elizabeth Taylor in 1958. The outpouring of public sympathy increased her fame, due to Taylor’s femme-fatale reputation and Reynolds’ girl-next-door image.
5. Reynolds forgave Taylor later in life. They rekindled their friendship and even costarred in the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads, written by Carrie Fisher.
6. Reynolds was married three times. Her husbands were actor Eddie Fisher, millionaire businessman Harry Karl and real estate developer Richard Hamlett. She blamed her last two for leaving her in financial ruin.
7. She was also a businesswoman. In 1979, she opened a dance studio in North Hollywood. She released an exercise video called Do It Debbie’s Way in 1983 and also produced another called Couples Do It Debbie’s Way.
8. In 1992, she bought the Clarion Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and renamed it the Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel. In 1997, she was forced to declare bankruptcy. She blamed her third husband for mismanaging the property, according to The Washington Post.
9. Despite her lengthy career, she never won an Academy Award. She was nominated for Best Actress in The Unsinkable Molly Brown in 1965, but lost to Mary Poppins‘ Julie Andrews. At the 2016 Academy Awards, she was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
10. She lived next door to her daughter, Carrie Fisher, in Beverly Hills before she died.
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