Debbie Reynolds, a leading lady in Hollywood musicals and comedies in the 1950s and 1960s including “Singin’ in the Rain,” died on Wednesday shortly after saying she wanted to be with her daughter Carrie Fisher.
The 84-year-old Oscar-nominated singer-actress passed away hours after being rushed to the Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke, her son, Todd Fisher said.
Her death came just one day after her daughter Carrie, the 60-year-old actress best known for playing Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, died of a heart attack.
“She’s now with Carrie and we’re all heartbroken,” her son Todd said from the hospital.
He said the stress of his sister’s death “was too much” for Reynolds. “She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie’,” Mr Fisher added. “And then she was gone.”
“The only thing we’re taking solace in is that what she wanted to do was take care of her daughter, which is what she did best,” he added.
Reynolds had fallen ill at her son’s home in Beverly Hills, according to celebrity website TMZ. They were reportedly discussing funeral plans for Fisher.
Joely Fisher, Carrie’s half sister and also an actress, had taken to Twitter to wish Reynolds well before the death was announced. “God speed mama,” she wrote.
Later she tweeted: “Some of the magic people have left the tribe…for the moment I am inconsolable…”
Tributes poured in for the actress. “Truly heartbroken to hear @DebbieReynolds1 has died. She was a wonderfully warm friend and colleague. Praying for Todd & Billie,” Joan Collins wrote on Twitter.
Albert Brooks, who starred alongside Reynolds in the 1996 film Mother, said: “Debbie Reynolds, a legend and my movie mom. I can’t believe this happened one day after Carrie. My heart goes out to Billie.”
Carl Reiner, who acted alongside Reynolds in The Gazebo and directed Carrie Fisher in the 1990 comedy Sibling Rivalry, tweeted: “How shocked we were to learn that Debbie Reynolds passed away just a day after her daughter Carrie. I loved & worked [with] both of these icons.”
In a lengthy statement on Instagram, actress Debra Messing, who was Reynolds’ daughter in the sitcom Will & Grace said Reynolds had “always worried about” her daughter.
“Carrie left too soon and now they are together again. My heart is literally broken…. An inspiration on every level. A Legend of course, the epitome of clean cut American optimism, dancing with Gene Kelly as an equal, a warrior woman who never stopped working.”
Numerous people wrote on social media that “she died of a broken heart.”
Reynolds was a superstar early in life. After two minor roles at Warner Bros. and three supporting roles at MGM, studio boss Louis B. Mayer cast her in “Singin’ in the Rain” in 1952, despite Gene Kelly’s objections. She was 19 with little dance experience, and she would be appearing with two of the screen’s greatest dancers, Donald O’Connor and Kelly, who also co-directed.
“Gene Kelly was hard on me, but I think he had to be,” Reynolds, who more than held her own in the movie, told the AP in 1999. “I had to learn everything in three to six months. Donald O’Connor had been dancing since he was three months old, Gene Kelly since he was 2 years old. … I think Gene knew I had to be challenged.”
Reynolds also has several hit records to her name, and topped the charts with the 1957 song “Tammy” from the film “Tammy and the Bachelor”.
She was married to Eddie Fisher, the singer and actor, from 1955 to 1959, and together they had two children- Carrie and Todd Fisher.
Fisher left Reynolds to marry Elizabeth Taylor, the actress, and Reynolds was married and divorced twice afterward.
Carrie Fisher spoke of her admiration for her mother in an interview last month with NPR, and said she had some recent health setbacks.
“She’s an immensely powerful woman, and I just admire my mother very much,” she said. “There’s very few women from her generation who worked like that, who just kept a career going all her life, and raised children, and had horrible relationships, and lost all her money, and got it back again. I mean, she’s had an amazing life, and she’s someone to admire.”