Monday, February 6, 2017

Debbie Reynolds and David Patrick Columbia - Debbie: My Life

6. Debbie: My Life by Debbie Reynolds and David Patrick Columbia (1988)
Length: 374 pages
Genre: Non-Fiction
Started: 19 January 2017
Finished: 6 February 2017
Where did it come from? From a Library Book Sale
How long has it been on my TBR pile? Since 1 June 2001
Why do I have it? I like non-fiction and had read and enjoyed Unsinkable: A Memoir by the same author in the past. However, David Patrick Columbia is a new author for me.

Born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Texas in April of 1932 - the child who would eventually become known as Debbie Reynolds - wasn't planning on ever having a career in Hollywood. Although she grew up in poverty, Debbie was catapulted to fame at a very young age - when she won the 'Miss Burbank' Beauty Pageant at the age of sixteen. What had started out as a chance to win some new clothes, also earned Debbie a screen test with Warner Brothers Studios. And so began the acting career of Debbie Reynolds.

From the very beginning, her fans identified with her and called her 'the kid' - the kid with guts, the kid with personality, the kid sister - and to movie audiences she was truly 'America's Sweetheart'. As Hollywood's reigning ingenue, Debbie Reynolds was the fresh-faced embodiment of American grace and gumption. Throughout her career, starring in such film classics as: Singin' in the Rain, How the West Was Won, Tammy and the Bachelor, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Debbie always portrayed a sassy, spunky, and bright personality. Yet behind the glitz and glamour of Hollywood - beyond the dazzling spotlight of instant fame - was a young woman thrown into the starmaking machine, and whose only hope was to achieve personal happiness for herself.

Now, taking readers inside her private world, Debbie tells it all: about an extraordinary life spent in the limelight - the tears, the laughter, and the bitter moments of her career - all is revealed in this candid, funny, and gutsy self-portrait. She reveals the real story behind her marriage to Eddie Fisher - a marriage that blew apart when he began a torrid love affair with Elizabeth Taylor - and abandoned Debbie to the hurricane winds of a sensational white-hot scandal. Here, too, is a startling expose of the years spent with her second husband Harry Karl - a compulsive gambler and womanizer who left her in a state of financial ruin.

Yet there are also so many wonderful memories as well - star-studded recollections from the Golden Era of Hollywood: memories made with such stars as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Gene Kelly, Bette Davis and Robert Wagner; the famous movies and movie moguls; as well as her hardwon, yet enduring relationship with her children, Carrie and Todd Fisher. As the last of the red-hot troupers, Debbie Reynolds has lived through it all: the hard times and the happy times, and she has somehow managed to retain her dauntless determination to make her dreams come true. This is so much more than just the saga of a legendary Hollywood star, it is also the fascinating and poignant story of a true survivor - someone who has emerged from her various trials and tribulations, perhaps somewhat battered, but ultimately triumphantly resilient.

Despite reading Ms. Reynolds second autobiography back in April of 2016 - after her recent passing in December of 2016 - I wanted to read her first autobiography. Actually, I found that this book focused more on her hard-scrabble childhood and in my opinion, she held nothing back. I must admit that I found Ms. Reynolds to be a wonderful person, lovingly honest and surprisingly forgiving - to be perfectly honest, perhaps more forgiving than I would be if I were in her circumstances.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, although if I did have any problems with it, it would probably be that Ms. Reynolds tended to drop names of stars into the story fairly frequently. Although having said that, I suppose that this would certainly be something to be expected when a bonafide Hollywood legend writes her autobiography. I would definitely give this book an A!

A! - (90-95%)

Till we Meet Again, Glow Brightly as Moonlight

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