VIDEO FLASHBACK: Remembering Stage and Screen Legend Debbie Reynolds
One of the brightest stars of the Golden Age of Movie Musicals, Reynolds came to fame at just 19 years old in the MGM classic SINGIN' IN THE RAIN in 1952. However, her career spanned more than six decades with Reynolds achieving success on screens large and small, as well as on Broadway.
Reynolds' career began unexpectedly in 1948 when she won a beauty CONTEST at the age of 16. Two of the CONTEST judges were scouts from Warner Brothers and MGM. When they heard Reynolds' show-stopping rendition of Betty Hutton's "I'm Just a Square in a Social Circle," they took an interest in the talented singer. With their help, Reynolds eventually became a triple-threat star. She soon made her screen debut with June Haver and James Baron in "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady." A subsequent performance in a Busby Berkley musical, "Two Weeks with Love," convinced Louis B. Mayer to choose Reynolds for the lead female role opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O'Conner in "Singin' in the Rain," which received several Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations and was ranked No. 1 on the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 musicals of all time.
The actress went on to star in more than 25 films, including her Academy Award nominated role in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." Her career skyrocketed and in addition to appearing as a leading lady in musicals and comedies, she performed on television and in nightclubs, recording smash hit songs such as "Tammy," "Am I That Easy to Forget" and "Cocktail Hour." Reynolds had a recurring role in the sitcom "Will and Grace" and recently appeared in the 2012 comedy "One for the Money," which also starred Katherine Heigl. In addition to her Oscar nomination, she is the recipient of five Golden Globe nominations, two Emmy Award nominations and one Tony Award nomination.
Take a look back at some of the unforgettable moments of this one-of-a-kind icon's career.
Debbie Reynolds singing "All I Do Is Dream of You" from SINGIN' IN THE RAIN:
While SINGIN' IN THE RAIN made Reynolds a major musical star, she had already been nominated for a Golden Globe in 1950 as "New Star of the Year- Actress" for her performance in THREE LITTLE WORDS.
Later that year, Reynolds again appeared opposite Carpenter in TWO WEEKS WITH LOVE.
Reynolds followed up the success of SINGIN' IN THE RAIN by appearing in THE AFFAIRS OF DOBIE GILLIS in 1953.
In 1956, Reynolds won a National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress in the film THE CATERED AFFAIR, which would be turned into a musical in 2008 (A CATERED AFFAIR). Leslie Kritzer played the Debbie Reynolds role of Jane Hurley.
Debbie Reynolds and Rod Taylor in THE CATERED AFFAIR:
Reynolds earned her only Academy Award nomination for the titular role in the Meredith Wilson musical THE UNSINKABLE Molly Brown in 1965. FUN HOME Tony-nominee Beth Malone has long been attached to a revival of the stage version, helmed by three-time Tony-winner Kathleen Marshall.
In 1989, Reynolds led a US National Tour of the Musical again playing the boisterous Titanic survivor.
The next year, Reynolds starred in the semi-biographical movie THE SINGING NUN. She played Sister Ann, based on the real life sister, Jeanine Deckers, who scored a chart-topping hit with "Dominique."
Debbie Reynolds singing "Brother John" from THE SINGING NUN:
Reynolds made her Broadway debut in 1973 in the revival of the classic musical IRENE. The production marked her daughter Carrie Fisher's first Broadway appearance as well. Reynolds was nominated for a Tony for the role.
She would return to the Great White Way in 1976 for a special revue, entitled DEBBIE, and she replaced Raquel Welch in WOMAN OF THE YEAR in 1983.
After regular big and small screen appearances for the next two decades, Reynolds again found critical success in the Golden Globe nominated role of Beatrice Henderson in the Albert Brooks comedy MOTHER.
Continuing her acclaimed work, Reynolds played Debra Messing's mother on WILL & GRACE from 1999-2006. Reynolds was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2000.
In addition to her incredible work on stage and screen, Reynolds was a noted business woman and philanthropist. For years, she owned and operated a Las Vegas hotel, and the dance school that she founded is still running in Los Angeles.
However, it was her love for Hollywood memorabilia that was truly special. For years, she collected, and protected, thousands of big screen artifacts, including the original Ruby Slippers from THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Reynolds' final screen performance was playing Frances Liberace in the Emmy-winning HBO film BEHIND THE CANDELABRA in 2013. The following year, the Screen Actors Guild honored her with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2015, she was presented the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
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