Date of Birth : Apr 1st 1932
As star of more than 30 motion pictures, two Broadway shows, two series, as well as dozens of television appearances here and abroad, in 2004 Debbie Reynolds celebrates her 55th year in show business. Born Mary Frances Reynolds on April Fool’s Day, 1932, in El Paso, Texas, she moved with her parents and brother to Burbank, California, when she was seven-years-old. An enthusiastic and highly energetic child, she excelled in sports, particularly sandlot baseball, Girl Scouts, baton twirling and in music, where her specialty was the French horn. Her early comedic talents first came to light when she auditioned for dramatic roles in school plays and found everyone laughing at her serious readings. Failing at that, she had to content herself with doing “everything from the wind machine to the thunder and lightning offstage,” never quite making it to onstage appearances.
At age 16, she entered a local beauty contest sponsored by Lockheed Aircraft. Never considered one of the beauties, she won on the strength of a lip-synching routine. Two of the judges were talent scouts-one from Warner Bros., one from MGM. On the flip of a coin, the Warner Bros. scout, Solly Baiano, got first dibs at a screen test for Mary Frances. The test led to a contract and a name change to Debbie.
Reynolds made her screen debut with June Haver and James Barton in The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady. Her first big break came in an MGM musical starring Fred Astaire and Red Skelton, Three Little Words, in which she portrayed Helen Kane, the boop-boop-a-doop girl of the late ’30s. A subsequent performance in a Busby Berkley musical, Two Weeks with Love, convinced the legendary L.B. Mayer to choose her for the leading female role in what became one of the greatest screen musicals of all time- Singin’ in the Rain, starring Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor.