December 29, 2016

Now Debbie Reynolds has died

Jack Kemp

Following on the heels of her daughter's death, now Debbie Reynolds has died of a stroke. This is really sad.

In the late 1990s, Debbie owned a small casino-hotel-movie memborabilia museum in Las Vegas, halfway between the Las Vegas Convention Center and the Strip. I got to see her one woman show there and hear some of her life stories, even accepting her gracious offer after the show to all the customers who wanted an individual photo with her. I still have it. The show was mostly Debbie reminiscing and showing film clips from her movies. We learned that Reynolds' problems with husbands didn't end with the breakup of her marriage to Eddie Fisher. Her next husband, Harry Karl, was a businessman who got involved in wild spending ventures, losing all his money. And since he convinced Debbie to cosign his ventures, she gave this advice to the women in the audience: "If your husband puts a paper in front of you and asks you to sign, DON'T SIGN." After Mr. Karl, Debbie then had to go back to performing on the road to pay off her cosigned debts. She admitted she knew nothing of managing a business, joking with the audience that when someone suggested she advertise her casino-hotel with a billboard costing $30,000, she replied, "Thirty thousand? I could buy a new hat!" Yes it was an exaggeration but you get the idea. She was a performer at heart who loved to put on a good show and was not a businesswoman. Also during the show, she also (proudly) told of men from some military reunion group who came to her Las Vegas show, listening to them imagine that they saw her in some movie when they were in the service. This story didn't fit the timeline of either her work or their age or Debbie's age. But she didn't contradict the veterans because the story drew them together with her, an American pop culture icon.

So how did Debbie Reynolds get to be a hotel owner? She got to own the hotel by convincing her friend, comedian Rip Taylor, to buy the distressed property for her for $25,000. She fixed it up a bit and put her movie costumes in glass cases in the lobby for everyone to see. Rip lost his investment but it probably didn't bankrupt him.

Debbie Reynolds told a joke during her show, saying that when she dies, she will be stuffed like Roy Rogers' horse Trigger - then put in the lobby of her hotel. Well, the hotel closed down a few years later but Debbie Reynolds has two stars on Hollywood Boulevard, one for Motion Pictures and one for Live Performance. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_stars_on_the_Hollywood_Walk_of_Fame#R ; Not too many people have that honor.

Rest in Peace, Debbie. Now you be with her daughter. But I bet also that you, Debbie, will be putting on some shows for your many fans who both preceeded you and who will join her later on. And there will be no promissory notes to sign, only notes to sing.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 12:17 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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