Debbie Reynolds Biography

(One of the Most Popular American Actresses of the 20th Century)

Birthday: April 1, 1932 (Aries)

Born In: El Paso, Texas, United States

Debbie Reynolds was a renowned American actress, singer, and humanitarian. Her performances earned her prestigious awards like the ‘Academy Award,’ ‘National Board of Review Award,’ and ‘Screen Actors Guild Award.’ Born into a modest family, she began modeling at a young age and worked her way up into the world of acting. She began her acting career by signing up with ‘Warner Bros’ and later worked with ‘MGM’ among other studios. After appearing in musicals and feature films, Debbie Reynolds later ventured into theatre, singing, voice acting, and television. Her most memorable performance include her roles in ‘Three Little Words,’ ‘Tammy and the Bachelor,’ ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ and ‘Mother.’ Her final film appearance was in a documentary titled ‘Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,’ which highlighted her relationship with her daughter Carrie Fisher. The film was posthumously premiered on HBO in 2017. Apart from acting, Debbie was also involved in other ventures, including the establishment of ‘Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel’ and the opening of her dance studio. She was also known for her humanitarian efforts and had served as the president of a charitable organization called ‘The Thalians.’

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Mary Frances Reynolds

Died At Age: 84


Spouse/Ex-: Eddie Fisher (m. 1955–1959), Harry Karl (m. 1960–1973), Richard Hamlett (m. 1984–1996)

father: Raymond Francis Reynolds

mother: Maxine Harmon

siblings: William Reynolds

children: Carrie Fisher, Todd Fisher

Born Country: United States

Actresses American Women

Height: 5'2" (157 cm), 5'2" Females

Died on: December 28, 2016

place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States

Cause of Death: Hemorrhagic Stroke

Ancestry: British American

City: El Paso, Texas

U.S. State: Texas

Childhood & Early Life

Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds on 1 April 1932, in El Paso, Texas, USA, to Maxene Reynolds and Raymond Francis Reynolds. Her father, a carpenter, was part of the ‘Southern Pacific Railroad’ project. She also had an older brother.

She lived with her family in a shack at Magnolia Street, El Paso. In 1939, they shifted to Burbank in California. She attended ‘Burbank High School’ and won the ‘Miss Burbank Beauty Contest’ in 1948.

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Soon after winning the beauty contest at the age of 16, Debbie Reynolds received offers from ‘MGM’ and ‘Warner Bros.’ she accepted the offer from ‘Warner Bros’ and was associated with the studio for two years. At that time, she was asked to adopt ‘Debbie’ as her screen name by Jack L. Warner. During this period, she acted in minor roles in feature films like ‘June Bride’ (1948). She also appeared in a musical titled ‘The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady’ (1950).

Later, when ‘Warner Bros’ stopped producing musicals, she accepted an offer from ‘MGM.’ During the 1950s, she appeared in several musical movies. Some of her most memorable performances were delivered in movies like ‘Two Weeks with Love’ (1950), ‘Skirts Ahoy!’ (1952), ‘Give a Girl a Break’ (1953), ‘The Affairs of Dobie Gillis’ (1953), ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952), and ‘Bundle of Joy’ (1956). She showcased her talent as a singer in ‘Three Little Words’ (1950), in which she portrayed vocalist ‘Helen Kane.’

In 1957, she starred in the romantic comedy film ‘Tammy and The Bachelor.’ Her recording of the sentimental ballad ‘Tammy’ for the film reached the topmost position in the Billboard music charts. Over the following years, she recorded several other songs, such as ‘A Very Special Love’ (1958) and ‘Am I That Easy to Forget’ (1960). These songs went on to become hits.

In 1964, Debbie Reynolds played the lead role in the feature film ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown,’ which was based on the fictionalized account of a survivor from the Titanic disaster. Her performance earned immense critical appreciation. In 1966, she played the titular role in the feature film ‘The Singing Nun.’

In 1973, she made her Broadway debut with the revival of the musical ‘Irene.’ Her performance was well received and she was nominated for many awards. In 1976, she starred in the self-titled play ‘Debbie.’ Other Broadway acts that she was part of include ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ (1977), ‘Woman of the Year’ (1982), and ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ (1989).

She voiced the leading character in the animated musical ‘Charlotte’s Web’ (1973). Other projects where she contributed as a voice actor include ‘Kiki's Delivery Service’ (1998 US release), ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Movie’ (1998), ‘Rugrats in Paris: The Movie’ (2000), ‘Rugrats: Acorn Nuts & Diapey Butts’ (2000), and ‘The Penguins of Madagascar’ (2010).

In 1979, Debbie Reynolds established her own dance studio in Hollywood. She released an exercise video titled ‘Do It Debbie’s Way!’ in 1983. In 1992, she bought the ‘Clarion Hotel and Casino,’ and renamed it ‘Debbie Reynolds Hollywood Hotel.’ Unfortunately, her business venture failed and she was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1997.

Between 1998 and 2006, she was part of the cast of Disney's ‘Halloweentown’ series. In 1999, she started appearing in the television sitcom ‘Will & Grace.’ She continued playing her role till the end of the series in 2006.

In 2010, she began responding to reader queries in the tabloid weekly ‘Globe.’ The same year, she appeared in her own West End show ‘Debbie Reynolds: Alive and Fabulous.’

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In 2016, she made an appearance in the documentary ‘Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.’ The documentary showcases the close relationship that she shared with her daughter Carrie Fisher.

Major Works

Debbie Reynolds was an actress best known for her performance in musicals and theatre productions. Her best known works include her roles in the 1952 classic ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ (1964).

Awards & Achievements

In 1955, Debbie Reynolds was named ‘Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year’ by ‘Hasty Pudding Theatricals Society’ at ‘Harvard University.’

In 1956, she won the ‘National Board of Review Award’ in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category for ‘The Catered Affair.’

In 1997, she won the ‘Golden Globe Award’ in the ‘Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy’ category for the movie ‘Mother.’

In 2007, she received an honorary degree in Doctor in Human Letters from the ‘University of Nevada’ in Reno.

In 2014, she was awarded the ‘Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.’ In 2015, she was honored with ‘Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award’ by the ‘Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.’

She has a star dedicated to her at the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame,’ at 6654 Hollywood Boulevard. Her hand and foot prints are preserved at the ‘Grauman’s Chinese Theatre’ in Hollywood.

Personal Life & Legacy

In 1955, Debbie Reynolds married singer Eddie Fisher. The couple had two children—Carrie Fisher—who went on to become an actress and writer and—Todd Fisher—who went on to pursue acting, cinematography, direction, and production of television films and documentaries. Debbie and Eddie separated in 1959, following Eddie Fisher’s extra-marital affair with actress Elizabeth Taylor.

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In 1960, Reynolds married businessman Harry Karl. She had a step daughter named Tina Karl from the marriage. She later faced issues with her finances owing to her husband’s bad investments and gambling habits. The marriage lasted until 1973, after which they parted ways.

Between 1984 and 1996, she was married to real estate developer Richard Hamlett.

She was associated with the non- profit organization ‘The Thalians’ which worked for individuals with mental health issues. She served as the president of the organization.

In 1988, she released her autobiography titled ‘Debbie: My Life.’ In 2013, she released another autobiography ‘Unsinkable: A Memoir.’

In December 2016, her daughter Carrie Fisher suffered a medical emergency during a flight. She subsequently died due to cardiac arrest on 27 December 2016.

On 28 December 2016, Debbie Reynolds was admitted to the ‘Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’ in Los Angeles, following a severe stroke. She passed away the same day. Later, the reason for her death was determined to be intra-cerebral hemorrhage which was aggravated due to hypertension.

Her mortal remains were buried along with that of her daughter’s at the ‘Forest Lawn Memorial Park - Hollywood Hills’ in Los Angeles.


Debbie Fisher collected Hollywood memorabilia and maintained her casino as a museum until its closure. The collection included over 3500 costumes, 20,000 photographs, thousands of movie posters, costume sketches, and other props which were later sold in an auction.

Her last words were “I want to be with Carrie."

Debbie Reynolds Movies

1. Singin' in the Rain (1952)

  (Comedy, Musical, Romance)

2. The Catered Affair (1956)

  (Romance, Comedy, Drama)

3. My Six Loves (1963)


4. Tammy and the Bachelor (1957)

  (Romance, Comedy)

5. The Mating Game (1959)

  (Romance, Comedy)

6. The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)

  (Comedy, Musical, Romance, Biography, Western)

7. June Bride (1948)


8. How the West Was Won (1962)


9. Two Weeks with Love (1950)

  (Comedy, Musical, Romance)

10. Three Little Words (1950)

  (Musical, Romance, Comedy, Biography)

See the events in life of Debbie Reynolds in Chronological Order

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