Thu | Mar 22, 2018

Reynolds, Fisher reconciled rocky relationship

Published:Friday | December 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Carrie Fisher in her teens.


Debbie Reynolds embodied the sunshine of postwar America on the screen as she matched steps with Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain.

Carrie Fisher brought the sarcasm and cynicism of the baby boomers to her movies, books and stage shows, even when she was playing a princess in Star Wars.

The mother and daughter, separated by so many differences, both personal and generational, are likely drawn closer in the public memory after their deaths on successive days.

Reynolds died on Wednesday at 84 years old, just as she and the rest of the world were starting to mourn her daughter Fisher, who died on Tuesday at 60 years old, days after falling ill on a flight.

Even after a year of shocking and constant celebrity deaths, the one-two punch of Fisher and Reynolds brought a staggering finale to 2016.

Reynolds' son, Todd Fisher, said his sister's death was "just too much" for his mother.

"She said, 'I want to be with Carrie'," Fisher told The Associated Press by phone from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where Reynolds had just died after being rushed there earlier in the day. "And then she was gone."

No cause of death has been revealed for either woman.

Both mother and daughter enjoyed the heights of show business success and endured the depths of personal troubles. Their relationship for years ranged from strained to non-existent, a theme frequently explored in Fisher's writing, but late in life they became allies and close confidantes in their struggles.

Reynolds lost one husband to Elizabeth Taylor and two other husbands plundered her for millions. Fisher struggled from early in life with addiction and mental illness.

"There have been a few times when I thought I was going to lose Carrie," Reynolds said when Oprah Winfrey interviewed both mother and daughter in 2011. "I've had to walk through a lot of my tears. But she's worth it."

As Fisher tried to distance herself from Reynolds, she barely spoke to her mother for nearly a decade. "It's very hard when your child doesn't want to talk to you and you want to talk to them and you want to touch them, you want to hold them," Reynolds told Winfrey. "It was a total estrangement."

Reynolds and her daughter were featured together in the HBO documentary Bright Lights, scheduled for release in 2017.

Reynolds took solace and strength in her last years from her renewed closeness with her daughter.

"I would say that Carrie and I have finally found happiness," Reynolds told Winfrey in 2011. "I admire her strength and survival."