Thursday, 1 April 2010

The unsinkable...

Happy birthday today to Miss Debbie Reynolds, star of Singin' In The Rain, How The West Was Won, That's Entertainment and The Unsinkable Molly Brown!

Having cultivated an almost unstoppably cheerful screen and stage persona, she was lauded as one of "America's darlings", which made the subsequent scandal surrounding her husband Eddie Fisher and the transfer of his affections to the couple's best friend Liz Taylor all the more of a headline-grabber. The well-documented media frenzy (whipped up by the likes of Louella Parsons and Hedda Hopper) which cast Miss Taylor as the "scarlet woman" in the imbroglio did Debbie's image no harm whatsoever - yet apparently in real life the two women later buried the hatchet and remain friends.

And as if to emphasise that fact, Miss Reynolds appeared in 2001 alongside Miss Taylor and Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins in an American TV movie called These Old Broads - a film I am still trying to get my hands on (it was only released on DVD in the US last year)...

Facts about Debbie Reynolds:
  • Mary Frances ("Frannie") Reynolds' big break came when she won the "Miss Burbank" talent contest by lip-synching to a record of Betty Hutton's I'm a Square in the Social Circle. Talent scouts from Warner Bros and MGM happened to be in the audience, and the rest is history.
  • Her hotel venture with ex-husband number three went bankrupt along with their marriage. Unfortunately among the disputed assets were priceless Hollywood items that Miss Reynolds collected including Judy Garland's 'Dorothy' dress from the Wizard of Oz, Marilyn Monroe's 'subway' dress, a Betty Grable bathing suit, and Julie Andrews' jumper and guitar from Sound of Music.
  • Her hugely popular TV show was cancelled by NBC over a dispute about cigarette advertising!
Of late, Debs has appeared as the mother in Will & Grace, and continues to perform her one-woman show Alive and Fabulous in Vegas and across the world. Indeed the great lady comes to London next month, but her tickets are extortionately priced so we'll have to wait and see about that.

Apparently she is doing this extensive world tour (at the age of 78) to raise funds to rescue her collection of memorabilia and create a museum of Hollywood. How camp! Unfortunately it seems beset by problems and filed for bankruptcy protection last year. It still appears to be "under construction" according to its website:

Let us wish many happy returns to a talented lady!

Debbie Reynolds in the West End

1 comment:

  1. Update on the fate of the Hollywood Motion Picture and Television Museum:

    September 2010, Knox News: The family of actress Debbie Reynolds have said that the valuable Hollywood memorabilia collection she has amassed will be sold at auction, likely ending the prospect that some of the most famous relics of the silver screen will be on public display in Pigeon Forge.

    Read the article


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