In 2015, it was Debbie Reynolds‘ year. In January 2015, she received the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award and in November 2015, Reynolds was toasted with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy Awards. Although Reynolds was not well enough to attend the special Academy Awards ceremony, she was at the SAG Awards, where Carrie Fisher delivered a brilliant and funny tribute.
“She has led two lives. Public and private. Sometimes concurrently, sometimes not,” Fisher told the audience. “One life is there to lead the other to follow around. Within those lives, she is a movie star, a recording artist, television actor, nightclub entertainer, Broadway performer, bestselling author, dance studio owner, preservationist of some of Hollywood’s most priceless artifacts and co-founder of the Thalians, a group that has raised more than $30 million for mental health… and four and a half million of that is allocated just for me.”
Reynolds died on December 28, just a day after Fisher died following a heart attack. Reynolds was 84 and Fisher was 60.
When Turner Classic Movies picked Reynolds for their star of the month one year, they enlisted Fisher to pay tribute to her mother’s career. “I thought it as a kid and I still think it now. My mother, Debbie Reynolds, has so much talent, it’s insane,” Fisher says at the start of the segment, seen below.
It’s tributes like these that highlight how close Fisher and her mother had become in recent years. Fisher and her brother, Todd Fisher, did not grow up in a normal household. It was impossible when your mother is Debbie Reynolds and your father is Eddie Fisher, who would later divorce Reynolds to marry her best friend, Elizabeth Taylor. Fisher’s relationship with her mother was the inspiration for Postcards from the Edge, a novel that was later turned into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine.
The signs that their relationship was getting better came during a 2011 appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show, in which both of them talked bluntly about their lives.
“We had a fairly volatile relationship earlier on in my 20s,” Fisher recalled on Oprah. “I didn’t want to be around her. I did not want to be Debbie Reynolds’ daughter.”
In her last moments, all Reynolds could think about was joining her daughter. In an interview with the Associated Press, Todd Fisher said “She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie.’ And then she was gone.”
“I’m very proud of my daughter,” Reynolds said on the red carpet in 2010. “She is wonderfully gifted and a very special daughter and a great talent. No wishful thinking here.”