By Laurie Coker
Photo Credit: ABC News
It is difficult to imagine losing a child, even one who is sixty years old. Actress, singer, humanitarian and businesswoman Debbie Reynolds lived to see it, but not for long. Just one day after the death of her equally famous daughter, Carrie Fisher, Reynolds passed away. To some this might not seem shocking, since Reynolds, 84, had lived a long, full life, but the loss of two such well-known stars, especially in such a sort timeframe, stunned fans and shocked a multitude of admirers.
Perhaps best known for her role in the musical Singin’ in the Rain, at the age of 19, Reynolds filmography and deeds span several decades. She hosted her own television show, made countless personal appearances, sang, danced and starred in a plethora films. Fisher was an actress whose body of work embodied determination and gusto. Like Reynolds, her characters were tenacious and memorable, and her off screen personal life sparked headlines, including a scandal when husband Eddie Fisher left her for Elizabeth Taylor.
Daughter Carrie, at the same age, rose to fame as Princess Leia in the original Star Wars series. This iconic role is imprinted in the memories of fans across the globe. After Star Wars, Fisher continued to act and she made an impact off screen as well, most notably in her struggle with drug addiction and other personal issues. Regardless, Fisher, whose father was the late singer Eddie Fisher, continued as a writer and as an advocate for those suffering mental illness. Her life, though relatively short, touched many.
News articles and tributes abound for these two remarkable women and many more will most certainly flow forth. Locally, the South Lamar location of the Alamo Drafthouse held a lightsaber vigil to Fisher on the night of December 28th, planned before Reynolds’ death. Hundreds showed up to pay homage to Fisher and to bid farewell to Princess Leia. Green, red and blue hues lit up the night sky. Leia, a strong and sensitive figure, gave girls of her generation a heroin to admire and emulate. Decades later, fans young and old remember and the impact the headstrong princess had on their lives.
Reynolds left a mark on Hollywood in more ways than one and she, like her daughter, she exuded strength and gracefulness. Looking back over her career it is easy to note her pluckiness and poise. She danced, sang, acted and gave – as a philanthropist, she has raised millions to shed light on mental health issues. At one point, Reynolds was the proud owner of a Vegas hotel and an impressive collection of movie memorabilia. Actresses like Reynolds are gold, and she literally lit up the screen, with her smile and vibrant personality.
Over the next few weeks and even into next year when, most expectedly, the Academy of Motion Pictures will present its in memoriam list, we will learn more about this pair of remarkable ladies, their iconic roles and the impact each had on the industry and their fans. Few, who witnessed first hand the talent of Reynolds and Fisher, will forget the first time they sat in the theater and were thoroughly enthralled and inspired. Standouts among others in the field, they mark times in our lives through their works and in their deaths.