Actress Debbie Reynolds, best known for her starring role in Singin’ in the Rain, died today (Dec. 28) at age 84, a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher’s death.
Reynolds was taken to a Los Angeles hospital after a suspected stroke. According to reports, she had been at the home of her son Todd Fisher discussing a funeral for Carrie, who died on Dec. 27 following a heart attack. “She wanted to be with Carrie,” Todd told Variety.
A documentary about Fisher and Reynolds will now be a posthumous tribute to the iconic Hollywood pair. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds explores the loving, but sometimes difficult, relationship between the mother-daughter duo. The 95-minute film, co-directed by Alexis Bloom and Fisher Stevens, premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and is slated to air on HBO in March.
Reynolds was still active and performing in Las Vegas at 83. But Fisher, who was living in a house on the same compound as her mother, was worried that her mother’s continued stage performances was exacerbating her health issues. The tension between mother and daughter is captured in one of the film’s most poignant moments in the final 15 minutes or so, as Hollywood Reporter wrote in May:
Reynolds is due to receive the 2014 Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award, and her physical frailty puts her attendance at the ceremony in doubt. The resulting anxiety of Fisher, who suffers from bipolar disorder, spirals into a manic episode, which is quite emotional to witness. “You know what would be really good?” she muses wearily. “To get to the end of my personality and just lie in the sun.”
The film also reflects their conflicting attitudes toward showbiz. Reynolds was a “carefully molded product of the studio system,” while Fisher emerged during the “free-spirited New Hollywood era” of the 1970s, wrote the Hollywood Reporter. For example, Fisher recalls in the film that Reynolds had to be persuaded to allow Fisher to say the word “f—“ in her screen debut Shampoo rather than “screw.”
“She asked for a script when we started shooting… She’s like what am I gonna say, I said just be yourself,” director Stevens said of Reynolds in an interview at Cannes.