ONE FOR THE MONEY
As star of more than thirty motion pictures, to Broadway shows, two television
series, as well as a dozen of television appearances here and abroad, in 2011
DEBBIE REYNOLDS (Grandma Mazur) celebrates her 63rd year in show business. Born
Mary Frances Reynolds on April Fools' Day, 1932 in El Paso, Texas, she moved
with her parents and her brother to Burbank, California when she was seven years
old. An enthusiastic and energetic child she excelled in sports (particularly
sandlot baseball), Girl Scouts, baton twirling and in music, where her specialty
was the French horn.
Her early comedic talents first came to light when she auditioned for dramatic
roles in school plays and found everyone laughing at her "serious" readings.
Failing that, she had to content herself with doing "everything from the sound
machine to the thunder and the lightning offstage," but she never made it to an
At age 16 she entered a local beauty contest sponsored by Lockheed aircraft.
Never considered one of the "beauties," she won on the strength of a
lip-synching rendition of Betty Hutton singing "I'm Just A Square in a Social
Circle." Two of the judges that night were talent scouts from Warner Bros. and
MGM. On the flip of a coin, the Warner Bros. scout Solly Baiano, got first dibs
at a screen test for Mary Frances. The test lead to a contract and the little
girl's name was changed to "Debbie" by Jack Warner himself!
Debbie made her screen debut with June Haver and James Barton in "The Daughter
of Rosie O. Grady." Her first big break came in the MGM musical starring Fred
Astaire and Red Skelton, "Three Little Words" in which she portrayed 'Helen
Kane,' the boop-boop-a-doop girl of the late 1930s. A subsequent performance in
a Busby Berkeley musical, "Two Weeks With Love," convinced the legendary L.B.
Mayer to choose her for the leading female role, in what became one of the
greatest screen musicals of all time: "Singin' In The Rain," starring Gene Kelly
and Donald O'Connor.
Over a ten-year period, Debbie made more than twenty-five films, including
"How The West Was Won," "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" (for which she was nominated for
an Oscar ), "Susan Slept Here," "The Tender Trap," "Tammy and The Bachelor,"
"The Pleasure of His Company," "Mary Mary," "Divorce American Style," "Goodbye
Charlie," "The Rat Race," "Mother" and "In and Out."
Her recording of "Abba Dabba Honeymoon" (from "Two Weeks In Love") and "Tammy"
(from "Tammy and The Bachelor") both sold more than a million copies. In the
mid-1960s Debbie put together her first nightclub act, which debuted at the
Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. In the forty some years since she has been a
headliner on the casino circuit from Reno Tahoe and Las Vegas to Atlanta city to
the famed London Palladium, as well as in concert in every major American city,
touring on the average of forty-four weeks a year.
In 1973, she took a break from her nightclub appearances to star in the Broadway
revival of "Irene" (it being the first stage show to open the Minskoff Theater),
breaking all previous records for a Broadway musical, and being the first person
ever to be nominated for a Tony award before the show had officially opened!
After an enormously successful national tour of the show Debbie returned to the
musical stage with another hit revival of Irving Berlin's "Annie Get Your Gun,"
directed by the late Gower Champion (who also directed "Irene"). In 1983 she
returned to Broadway again (this time at the famed Palace Theatre) to star the
hit musical "Woman Of The Year." In 1989 and Debbie did a very successful
national tour of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."
Debbie's off-screen, off-stage life has been as active and versatile. Mother of
two children, actress/writer Carrie Fisher and son, Todd Fischer. In 1992,
Carrie made her a grandmother by giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, Billie
She has been a lifelong supporter and fundraiser for the Girl Scouts, the
founder President of The Thalians, a charitable organization which has raised
millions of dollars for emotionally disturbed children and AIDS patients located
at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.
Since the late 1960s, she has been actively involved in a project closest her
heart, the collection and preservation of memorabilia from Hollywood's first
half century of film making, gathering thousands of costumes props and mementos
of Hollywood studios and their greatest stars. While her dream of creating the
largest individual collection of Hollywood memorabilia did not come to fruition,
she is currently in the second phase of auctioning off her many of her
possessions for excited fans worldwide.
The late 1970s anticipating her eventual retirement from performing, Debbie
established at the Debbie Reynolds professional rehearsal studios in North
Hollywood, California, which has since become one of the entertainment
industry's leading rehearsal, as well as professional training studios.
In 1987, Debbie has published her widely read memoir "Debbie, My Life,"
(co-written with David Patrick Columbia) with William Morrow & Co., publisher.
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