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As star of more than 30 motion pictures, two Broadway shows, two series, as well as dozens of television appearances, both here and abroad, DEBBIE REYNOLDS celebrates her 52nd year in show business in 2000. Born Mary Frances Reynolds on April Fool’s Day, 1932, in El Paso, Texas, she moved with her parents and brother to Burbank, California when she was eight years old. 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. At 16, she entered a local beauty contest, and one of the judges that night was a talent scout from Warner Bros. Reynolds made her screen debut in The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady. Her first big break came in the MGM musical Three Little Words starring Fred Astaire and Red Skelton, and a subsequent performance in the Busby Berkley musical Two Weeks With Love convinced the legendary Louis 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.
Over a ten-year period, Debbie made more than 25 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; and Goodbye Charlie.
Her recordings of “Abba Dabba Honeymoon” from Two Weeks with Love and “Tammy” both sold more than a million copies. In the mid-1960s, Reynolds put together her first nightclub act which debuted at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. Since then, she has been a headliner on the casino circuit and given concert performances in every major American city and at London’s Palladium.
In 1973, Reynolds starred in the Broadway revival of Irene, and, after a successful national tour of the show, she returned to the musical stage in Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun. In 1983, she returned to Broadway to star in the hit musical Woman of the Year, and she performed in a national tour of The Unsinkable Molly Brown in 1989. In the late 1970s, anticipating her eventual retirement from performing, Reynolds established the Debbie Reynolds Professional Rehearsal Studios in North Hollywood. In 1987, Debbie published her widely-read memoir, Debbie, My Life (Morrow).
Reynolds has been a life-long supporter of the Girl Scouts and is founder-president of the Thalians, a charitable organization which helps emotionally disturbed children. Since the late 1960s, she has also been actively involved in collecting and preserving memorabilia from Hollywood’s first half-century of filmmaking. Her dream is to one day establish a museum to house her collection.