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Book Notes

May 16, 2013

Memoir reflects on 'roller-coaster life and career'

One of the first movies I remember from my younger days was “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.” I can’t explain why that film resonates in my memory, but the star of the movie was Debbie Reynolds. Besides having a leading role in a few memorable films from the 1950s and ‘60s, Reynolds is probably best remembered for being unceremoniously dumped by her husband Eddie Fisher for Elizabeth Taylor, and being the mother of “Star Wars” princess Carrie Fisher. But her life was much more than that.

Reynolds just published her latest memoir, “Unsinkable,” and it’s an apt title. It’s a no-holds barred look at her roller-coaster life and career. Reynolds is a living proof that fame and fortune do not automatically buy happiness. The good news is that she refused to stay down.

It’s hard to believe that anyone could pick three worse husbands than she did. Part of the motivation for writing this memoir came from the fact that Reynolds erroneously predicted in her previous biography, “Debbie, My Life” (published in 1988), that she was entering bliss with her third marriage.

Apparently, the third time wasn’t the charm. The way Reynolds described him, the third husband was worse than the first two combined and that’s saying a lot. Eddie Fisher literally walked away from Reynolds and their two infant children to chase a sex goddess. At least he got his just desserts when Elizabeth Taylor tossed him aside for Richard Burton.

Reynolds did not learn her lesson. The second husband was a gambler and spent all her money. The third pulled the trifecta of adultery, drunkenness and draining Reynolds of her life savings. The irony is that she was warned by friends not to marry any of them. At least there wasn’t a fourth.

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