The world dimmed momentarily. Another Hollywood star in the ever-revolving universe has blinked out. The day after Carrie Fisher left us, so too did her mum.
Mary Frances Reynolds. She starred in countless films, musicals, TV movies and series, and stage shows. I didn’t know until today that Debbie had voiced characters in Rugrats, and appeared in episodes of such trashy back in the day TV gold as The Love Boat.
From El Paso, Texas, Debbie, as many know, was a hard-working actress and mum who had not been lucky either in love, nor money. She had struggled to claw back the fortune gambled away by her second husband, then all the money she lost as a result of a failed hotel/casino business venture.
Her award-winning career lasted more than half a century. On dark days as well as bright ones, Debbie was able to fix the smile to her face, and bounce back out, glittering.
If I were asked to choose a favourite role, it would have to be Singin’ in the Rain’s fresh-faced Kathy Selden.
“You keep away from me. Just because you’re a big movie star, wild parties, swimming pools, you expect every girl to fall in a dead faint at your feet…” Kathy Selden to Don Lockwood
From the moment when Gene Kelly actually drops into her car to escape the clutches of his ‘adoring fans’, to the final close-up of the Singin’ in the Rain billboard, Debbie entertains us with various musical numbers and her cutesy yet determined characterisation of a girl on the sudden cusp of stardom. The billboard represents Kathy’s arrival as a major star (her usurping the throne of beautiful, yet essentially talentless Lina Lamont, plus her defining real life career moment).
“You might as well know, I’m the one who hit Miss Lamont with a cake. Believe me, it was meant for Mr Lockwood.” Kathy Selden
I love Singin’ in the Rain as it’s a brilliant send-up of the transition from silent movies to talking pictures. Kathy Selden is a Cocoanut Grove dancer, and a stage actress speaking ‘glorious words’ who makes Gene Kelly’s Don Lockwood think twice about his own career. The film, together with its musical numbers is a delight from beginning to end, and proves what a talent the late Debbie Reynolds was.
Debbie Reynolds 1932-2016