Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas. In 1939, her father went to Southern California to take a new job; and, in 1948, Mary Frances entered the local “Miss Burbank” beauty pageant and won at age 16. Two of the judges were talent scouts from Warner Brother’s and MGM; and, the rest, as they say, is “Hollywood History.” After her appearance in “Three Little Words” with Fred Astaire, MGM signed her to a standard 7-year contract; and, in 1951, the renowned Louie B. Mayer was convinced that she should be cast alongside Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in one of the greatest musicals of all time: “Singin’ in the Rain.” In 1957, she scored a #1 hit with “Tammy” [from her movie “Tammy and the Bachelor”], which was the best-selling single by a female vocalist that year. By 1959, Debbie had become one of the top ten box-office stars of the year. By 1960, pursuing her parallel career as a pop singer, she had scored two more Top 25 hits, including “Am I That Easy to Forget.” In the 1960s, Debbie signed a three-year agreement with ABC to produce a series of yearly television specials. She also put together her first Las Vegas nightclub act; and, has remained a headliner on the casino circuit ever since. Returning to the movies, Debbie contributed an exceptionally human element to MGM/Cinerama’s historical western epic “How the West Was Won” (1962); and, received an Oscar nomination for her incredible title roll in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” (1964), one of the year’s biggest money-makers. In 1974, she turned to Broadway, and had a smashing success in the title role of the revival of “Irene;” a role for which she won the Outer Circle Critics’ Award for Best Actress in a Musical. In the 1980s, there were TV sitcoms and a best-selling exercise video; in the 1990s, this exceptional lady revived her film career once more and earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Albert Brooks’s “Mother” (1996); and, in very recent times [1999-2006], she played Grace Adler’s ditzy mother, Bobbi Adler, on the hit NBC sitcom, “Will and Grace,” for which she won an Emmy Award.
She has earned her reputation as the “hardest working actress in Hollywood;” and will be filming a special on Festival Friday this year. She will fly to Virginia after filming late Friday night; and, will fly back to Hollywood late Saturday night to resume filming on Sunday. Unfortunately, it is now doubtful that Debbie will be able to make the Friday night appearances that the Festival had hoped for; but, all fans are encouraged to buy tickets to the Grand Feature Parade at the Official Festival Souvenir Store and Ticket Outlet and welcome “America’s Sweetheart” to the Shenandoah Valley.