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Debbie Reynolds: Hollywood Legend
by Betty Jo Tucker

Because April is Debbie Reynolds’ birthday month, I want to share some of my memories about  this multi-talented entertainer. She won my admiration from the day I first saw her on screen as boop-boop-a-doop girl Helen Kane in Three Little Words back in 1950. I think her work in Singin’ in the Rain (1952) and The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) -- which earned her a well-deserved Oscar nomination -- is among the best that movie musicals have to offer. Her live stage performances evoked cheers and applause, as my husband and I witnessed while enjoying her show in Las Vegas many years ago.

Debbie was as generous with her time as with her talent. She did fundraising for the Girl Scouts and was founder-president of the Thalians, a charitable organization responsible for raising millions of dollars for emotionally disturbed children. But beginning in the 1960s, the project closest to Debbie’s heart became the collection and preservation of Hollywood memorabilia. My husband and I were fortunate to be the first fans admitted to her Las Vegas Hollywood Museum when it opened to the public in 1996. Although that particular venue later closed, Debbie auctioned off most of the wonderful costumes.  

Debbie faced rough times in her private life, but she managed to maintain a positive attitude and a great sense of humor. It must have been devastating when hubby Eddie Fisher left her for Elizabeth Taylor back in days of yore -- as well as to be burdened with another husband’s (Harry Karl) massive gambling debts, but Debbie soldiered on. And she joked about it during my interview with her on our Movie Addict Headquarters radio show.   

When I asked Debbie what’s the most important thing she wanted everyone to know about her, she replied, “That I love people and want to entertain them and make them laugh.”

Mission accomplished, dear Debbie Reynolds! We miss you and want to thank you for all the pleasure you gave us in your wonderful shows and movies.

(Debbie Reynolds: April 1, 1932 -- December 28, 2016)

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