Thursday, April 25, 2013

Debbie Reynolds is Unsinkable


As you may know, I love a good Old Hollywood Biography! Who of us doesn't? I just finished reading Debbie Reynolds' latest autobiography Unsinkable. It came out this month and is already getting spectacular reviews! Publishers Harper Collins were kind enough to send me a copy for review.


From the press release:
"Actress, comedienne, singer, and dancer Debbie Reynolds shares the highs and lows of her life as an actress during Hollywood's Golden Age, anecdotes about her lifelong friendship with Elizabeth Taylor and her experiences as the foremost collector of Hollywood memorabilia, and intimate details of her marriages and family life with her children, Carrie and Todd Fisher.

A story of heartbreak, hope, and survival, "America's Sweetheart" Debbie Reynolds picks up where she left off in her first memoir, Debbie: My Life.

Unsinkable is illustrated with previously unpublished photos from Reynolds' personal collection."


She states in the beginning that the first section of the book is what she has been up to since 1988 when she just married her 3rd husband, and the second part would be filled with memories and scoop on the films and people surrounding her at that time.  My plan was to speed through the first part to get to the scoop, but quickly found myself immersed in the first part~ a great soap opera filled with ambition, betrayal and...murder?? So much has happened to her both good and bad, personally and professionally that it's obvious she really is unsinkable. Apt, don't you think?



Of course, one cannot mention Debbie Reynolds without mentioning the Eddie/Elizabeth fiasco. That was the late 1950's version of Jennifer/Brad/Angelina. She touches on this and does so without too much emotion. I think after talking about it so much it works in the reader's favor to see it somewhat objectively. What does affect her more in my opinion, is the hurt she has endured from her 3rd husband. Not only does he gut her emotionally, but puts her reputation as a business woman on the line. No one can say she doesn't defend herself with grace and dignity.  She showed that during the Eddie tribulations and continued to do so during legal troubles she unwillingly found herself.  Luckily she had a small group of hardcore friends including her children, Carrie and Todd, who were by her side since day one.


A common thread weaving through all of this is her dream of a Hollywood Memorabilia Museum. She has been a collector of discarded props, costumes and the like since the 1960's.  When the great studio MGM liquidated their property in the 1970's, she was there to buy as much as she could. To them, it was dead weight.  To her, and many others, it is history and dreams! Where was the respect? She had amassed a huge collection including many costumes from Cleopatra, Singin' In The Rain, The Seven Year Itch, The Wizard of Oz and many more films. Sadly, each location she found, and there were many, somehow eluded her. By the time she was forced to auction off a bulk of it, she had given up hope. Bittersweet. Hopefully the collectors that now own these gorgeous items love them as much as she did!


Okay, what about the scoop you ask?  There were many things I didn't know. Carrie tells us in the forward that Debbie has a remarkable memory and that stories come all the time.  This is one of the reasons she decided to continue with her story as there is still so much to tell! At 81 years old, that's a lot.  She refers to herself as a 'Girl Scout' and horrified when she witnesses Elizabeth and Mike Todd beat on each other and being chastised  by all when later told it was a form of foreplay.  There were times when she performed at her Hotel and Casino for free, just to entertain and interact and save money for the debt machine that was her Las Vegas dream resort.  I loved the story of when she would faint on cue to avoid being yelled at by a certain director until he learned how to talk to her humanely.  Fred Astaire took her under his care while she was training for Singin' In The Rain and showed her the more flawed side of him. Here are some other things you will find out about:


Who did Debbie discover jumping naked on a couch while singing opera?

Who came to the rescue of a sick Carrie while Debbie was away in another country?

Why did she buy Bob Fosse a jock strap?

Which Rat Pack member was an outstanding kisser?

Who tried to punch her in front of a large audience?

Which iconic costume sold for $5,520,000 and broke all records at her memorabilia auction?


AND SO MUCH MORE! I know, right?!?!  I've always like Debbie and am thrilled she is still around to share more memories and anecdotes, in addition to continually working. Have you seen her body of work? She is currently playing Liberace's mother in HBO's Behind the Candelabra. She is also on social media!  Please check out her Facebook and Twitter!!  Be sure to also check out her website where you can see and buy from her still wondrous collection of old Hollywood costumes and artifacts.



Thank you to Tracy at Harper Collins and to Debbie Reynolds for continuing to amaze us!

3 comments:

katee boyle said...

awesomely entertaining review Katie Custer!
totally makes me want to read the book.

katee boyle said...

awesome review katie custer.
very well written.
They should get some of your quotes on the book sleeve..now i totally want to read it!

Christian Esquevin said...

Thanks for providing some of the scoop on this book. It's on my wish list - especially the parts about her collection.