In Memoriam 2016: Debbie Reynolds
2016 strikes again. Debbie Reynolds, 84, passed away Wednesday, December 28th, after suffering from a severe stroke. Her death immediately followed the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, on Tuesday, December 27th.
A noted actress, Debbie Reynolds clinched her first leading role in Singin’ in the Rain in 1952. She was 19 years old, and she became a leading actress by the mid-1950s. Some of her most notable films include How the West Was Won, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, The Singing Nun, Mother, and In and Out. She also receive critical acclaim for The Debbie Reynolds Show.
Younger generations are more likely to know Reynolds, however, from her role as Charlotte in the 1973 animated production of Charlotte’s Web. She also reached younger audiences with her role as Aggie Cromwell in the Disney Halloweentown series.
Her career, though, expanded beyond her role as a film actress. She was a noted stage actress, performing on and off Broadway. She first starred in Irene in the early 1970s, and continued with Debbie, Annie Get Your Gun, and Woman of the Year. Her Irene debut also starred her daughter, Carrie Fisher.
Debbie Reynolds won many awards throughout her career, which lasted into her later years. Her accomplishments include Golden Globe nominations, a National Board of Review award, and the Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award.
While she never won an Academy Award for her film roles, the Academy did recognize her off-screen work with a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. She received the award for her dedication to furthering the issue of mental health. She was a founding member of the Thalians, a group of actors dedicated to supporting mental health causes, and served as president almost continuously from 1957 to 2011.
An iconic actress, Debbie Reynolds roles won’t soon be forgotten. And her role in mental health awareness will have a lasting impact on the lives of those she has helped improve.
In the words of Jane Fonda, “The award we are giving Debbie tonight, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, is presented not for her body of work as a performer, although we all recognize and cherish Debbie as the vibrant movie star who brought so much life and energy to her classic film roles, but for the outstanding work she has done outside her day job to improve our city, our country, and the world.”