Picture it: Atlantic City, and the year 1986 is coming to a close. My first job out of college is at a Harrah’s call center. Appearing for the New Years show is Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. And in my insipid young brain, I couldn’t imagine who’d ever pay to see them.
And at the hotel gym one day, I expressed that view, out loud. They just seemed to me to be the most unfashionable, unhip, way-past-their-prime duo the main stage could ever book on a big day like New Year’s. (This is before Turner Classic Movies was around to school me in the charms of Hollywood’s golden age.)
A woman on the Nautilus next to me overheard, and she was not pleased. She looked a little like a young Debbie Reynolds, and it turns out she was Debbie’s personal secretary. She was clearly upset and told me that Miss Reynolds wasn’t even well and shouldn’t be performing, but being a real trouper, she was bravely going on anyway. How dare you. She didn’t actually say that last line, but that was the message.
I was immediately cast into a guilt that has lasted to this day. I can barely get through “Singin’ in the Rain” without the creeping suspicion that her crying secretary blabbed to her about that stupid kid in the gym. Whenever she’d guest on “Will and Grace,” my elation was always tinged with a little melancholy. Well, now I can see her myself and apologize:
DEBBIE REYNOLDS Live! Presented by The Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts
on the Campus of Sacred HeartUniversity in Fairfield, Connecticut
The Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts at Sacred Heart University continues its American Legends Series with the actress, singer and dancer Debbie Reynolds LIVE! This special presentation is in support of the new Theatre Arts Program at Sacred Heart University.
Debbie Reynolds will take the stage to candidly reminisce about her career in film, on stage and television in an ‘Actors Studio-style’ presentation hosted by Jerry Goehring, Executive Director of The Edgerton Center. In addition, the evening will include selected clips from her film, television and Vegas-style shows. Miss Reynolds will also participate in a Q&A with members of the audience.
Born Mary Frances Reynolds, Debbie Reynolds, forever acknowledged as America’s Sweetheart, got her start in beauty pageants before being discovered by a Warner Bros. film scout. She made her film debut in a modest part in 1948’s “June Bride,” followed by a more noticeable role in musical “The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady” in 1950.
Signing with MGM later that year, she showcased her flair for impersonation as well as her boundless energy and pert demeanor in “Three Little Words,” in which she portrayed 1920s vocalist Helen Kane. Reynolds’ most memorable turn was in “Singin’ in the Rain,” in which she offered a spirited performance opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Parts in lighthearted fare followed, including “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis,” “Athena,” and “The Catered Affair”
Reynolds secured a place at #1 on the pop charts with the sentimental ballad “Tammy” from her popular romantic film “Tammy and the Bachelor,” in which she starred opposite Leslie Nielsen. In 1964, she won the respect of her peers in the title role in the film version of “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” for which she received an Academy Award nomination.
After starring in the short-lived television sitcom “The Debbie Reynolds Show” (1969) and the campy feature “What’s the Matter with Helen?” (1971), Reynolds did not act in films for the next two decades. Instead, she turned toward stage work, spending the next few years performing in Las Vegas nightclubs and on Broadway, where she received a Tony Award nomination for the 1973 revival of Irene. After a recurring role on the TV sitcom “Alice,” Reynolds returned to Broadway, where she replaced Lauren Bacall in the lead role of the musical version of Woman of the Year (1983). In 1989, she began to tour nationally with a stage production of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.
Reynolds returned to feature films in 1992, with a cameo appearance in “The Bodyguard” followed by a supporting role in Oliver Stone’s ”Heaven and Earth.” In 1996, she headlined her first film in 25 years, when she was cast in the title role of Albert Brooks’ endearing comedy “Mother.”
She continues to make appearances in film and television, most recently featured with her daughter Carrie on “Oprah.” From 1999 to the 2006 series finale of NBC’s hit sitcom “Will & Grace,” she played Grace’s ditzy mother, Bobbi Adler, which earned her an Emmy Award nomination. She also played a recurring role as Aggie Cromwell in the Disney Channel’s “Halloweentown” film series
She took her stage show, Debbie Reynolds: Alive and Fabulous to London’s West End. She most recently became a regular columnist for the weekly paper The Globe – replacing Ivana Trump in answering reader queries.
Throughout her career, Reynolds has amassed a large collection of movie memorabilia valued at $10.79 million. Among the “more than 3500 costumes, 20,000 photographs, and thousands of movie posters, costume sketches, and props” are Charlie Chaplin’s bowler hat and Marilyn Monroe’s white ‘subway dress’ (estimated value of one to two million dollars) whose skirt is lifted up by the breeze from a passing subway train in the film “The Seven Year Itch.”
Reynolds has been married three times. She and Eddie Fisher were married in 1955, later becoming the parent of Carrie and Todd Fisher. A public scandal ensued when Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor fell in love following the death of Taylor’s then-husband Mike Todd, after which Reynolds and Fisher were divorced in 1959. Her second marriage, to millionaire businessman Harry Karl, lasted from 1960 to 1973. At its end, she found herself in financial difficulty because of Karl’s gambling and bad investments. Reynolds was married to real estate developer Richard Hamlett from 1984 to 1996.
Date: Sunday, April 10 (2011) at 7pm
Reserved Tickets for Debbie Reynolds LIVE! are:
$20 – General Public
$15 – Student/Faculty/Staff
$15 – Senior Citizens
Tickets may be purchased:
By Phone: Edgerton Center Box Office at 203.371.7908 (Mondays through Fridays from 12noon-4pm).
In Person: at box office located in the lobby of the Edgerton Center
The box office will be open 2 hours prior to each performance.
Online at www.EdgertonCenter.org (24/7)
Debbie Reynolds LIVE! is presented on the stage of the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts on the campus of Sacred Heart University, located at 5151 Park Avenue in Fairfield, Connecticut just minutes from exit 47 of the Merritt Parkway.
The Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts is totally wheelchair accessible. Please let the box office know of any special needs when ordering tickets