Debbie Reynolds, known in the 1950s as “America’s Sweetheart” and later as a show biz trooper and “triple threat” dancer, singer and actress, died Wednesday, one day after her own daughter’s death. She was 84.


Her son, Todd Fisher, said Reynolds died Wednesday, a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher, who was 60.


“She’s now with Carrie and we’re all heartbroken,” Fisher said from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where his mother was taken by ambulance earlier Wednesday.




Reynolds had a long career in Hollywood that spanned over four decades, with her first starring role in “Singin’ in the Rain” at age 19. She starred in dozens of films in the 1950s and ‘60s, and eventually had her own short-lived sitcom, “The Debbie Reynolds Show.”


Her personal life, though, also dominated headlines — her highly-publicized breakup in 1958 with husband Eddie Fisher (who left for her for Elizabeth Taylor) has been called the Pitt/Aniston/Jolie scandal of its time. And later in life, her daughter frequently wrote about their lives, with Reynolds saying in a 2010 interview that “there is nothing [Carrie] keeps to herself.”


She was born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas – giving her the languid drawl that would help define her image as the ideal American wife. Reynolds moved to Burbank at age 7, where she was a model Girl Scout. At age 16, she entered a Miss Burbank beauty pageant contest to win a free blouse and skirt, and won – which landed her a contract with Warner Brothers for $65 a week.


Reynolds landed the starring role in “Singin’ in the Rain” without any formal dance training – and opposite dancing legend Gene Kelly, who was 20 years her senior. She told CBS Sunday Morning in 2013 that they danced for “10, 12 hours every day – there were no days off.”


As she old CBS News’ Mo Rocca in 2013, her “heart hurt” as she wondered if she could keep up. “Could you keep up? Were you going to fail?” Reynolds described how she felt. “And Gene Kelly kind of scared me, because he was the boss, and he was brilliant, and he was a wonderful teacher. He had to teach me. And to be given a little kitty cat, and expect it to be a lion, it didn’t happen overnight. I had to work, work, work without question.”


Similar to her character Kathy Selden, “Singin’ in the Rain” propelled Reynolds to Hollywood stardom. She appeared in over a dozen films in the 1950s — including “The Tender Trap” and “Tammy and the Bachelor”– and her personal life also dominated headlines. She married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955, with daughter Carrie born in 1956 and son Todd followed in 1958. The family had become bona fide Hollywood royalty.