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The last time Debbie Reynolds, who died today at the age of 84, stood in front of her peers, accepting their love and adoration, was at the 21st annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 25, 2015, at which she was honored with SAG’s Life Achievement Award.
Her health in decline, she had been nervous about attending the event — her anxiety about making such a public appearance is captured in the new documentary Bright Lights: Starring Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, directed by Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, which debuted at this past May’s Cannes Film Festival and which HBO is scheduled to air in March.
But once she found herself at the Shrine Auditorium and the spotlight was trained on her, ever the trouper, Reynolds rose to the occasion.
Her daughter Carrie Fisher was on hand to introduce her mother. “Actually, she has been more than a mother to me — not much, but definitely more,” Fisher said, earning laughs. “She’s been an unsolicited stylist, interior decorator and marriage counselor.” She continued, “She has led two lives, public and private, sometimes concurrently, sometimes not,” citing her mother’s illustrious career as movie star, recording artist, Broadway performer, nightclub entertainer, best-selling author, Hollywood preservationist and co-founder of the charity group the Thalians, which has raised more than $30 million to mental health, and Fisher added jokingly, “four-and-half million of that money is allocated just for me.”
Making her way to the stage amid a standing ovation, Reynolds spoke of how Singin’ in the Rain was her favorite movie. “I had a good time making that picture, wearing myself out,” she recounted, noting that her hairdo in the movie ncluded “an ugly bun” and so when Carrie was cast as Princess Leia in Star Wars, she warned her, “Be careful of any weird hairdo. So, luckily George [Lucas] gave her two buns. Thank you, George.” Standing beside her mother, Carrie’s delight in her mom’s humor was evident.
Reynolds also cited another of her favorite movies The Unsinkable Molly Brown in which she sang one of her signature tunes “I Ain’t Down Yet,” concluding, “Well, I ain’t. Thank you all very much for this wonderful award.”
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