Hollywood star Debbie Reynolds has died barely a day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher, who once said she would be “happy” to be like her mother.
The actresses enjoyed a tumultuous relationship, particularly during Carrie’s early forays into show business as she battled drug and alcohol addiction.
However, the bond between the mother and daughter always appeared special and last year Carrie handed Debbie the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In her speech, Carrie described Debbie as being “more than a mother”.
She said: “She’s been an unsolicited stylist, interior decorator, and marriage counsellor”, before adding: “This is an extraordinarily kind, generous, gifted, funny woman who would give you the shirt off her back if Vivien Leigh hadn’t once worn it in Gone With The Wind, and it’s the Debbie Reynolds of the big screen who made it all possible.”
In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone, Carrie compared her mother’s split from Eddie Fisher to Star Wars, and herself to her character Princess Leia.
“Dad goes off to the dark side, and mum marries a millionaire. My brother and I went in different directions on the Debbie and Eddie issue. He’s gotten involved with Jesus, and I do active work on myself, trying to make myself better and better. It’s funny.”
In the same interview she said there was “a whole lot of freight” with being the child of movie stars, adding: “On the cover of Life when you’re two minutes old. I remember the press diving through trees to get pictures of me, my brother and my mother.”
On Carrie’s success as Leia, Debbie once said: “People used to call her Debbie Reynolds’ daughter … now they call me Princess Leia’s mother.”
In Debbie’s memoir, Unsinkable, she discussed the decision not to cast her in the film of Carrie’s semi-autobiographical novel Postcards From The Edge: “Excuse me? I’m not right to play myself, a part that I’d been creating – admittedly, unwittingly – for my daughter for decades?”
The two appeared together on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2011 in which Carrie said of her childhood: “My mother would get up in the morning as my mother, and then she’d go into this big closet she had … she’d go in on this end as my mum, and she’d come out the other end as Debbie Reynolds. It was like a car wash for celebrities.”
She also opened up about her “volatile” relationship with her mother during her youth. “I did not want to be around her. I did not want to be Debbie Reynolds’ daughter.” She added: “I wanted my own life. Her life was crazy at that time and I was in it and I was your confidant and it was chaos and it was hard for all of us.”
And discussing Debbie as she entered her later years, Carrie said: “At a time in her life when a lot of people are getting ready not to be, my mother is better than ever. I believe my mother knows now but if she doesn’t, it would be good if she did, that I take her advice, that I follow her example, that I respect who she is… and if I’m like her in any way then I’m happy that I am.”
On the same broadcast Debbie discussed her daughter’s drug and alcohol addictions. She said: “There have been a few times when I thought I was going to lose Carrie. I’ve had to walk through a lot of my tears, but she was worth it.”
She added: “I would say that Carrie and I have finally found happiness. I admire her strength and survival, I admire that she is alive, that she has chosen to make it. It would have been easy to give up and give in and to keep doing drugs. I always feel – as a mother does – that I protect her, who will do that when I’m gone?”