Debbie Reynolds' death sheds new light on family life

THE hidden complexity of the relationship between three generations of women has come to light following the tragic deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

On Wednesday, Hollywood star Debbie Reynolds died of a possible stroke while making preparations for the funeral of her daughter, Carrie Fisher, who had died one day earlier following a heart attack on a flight from London.

The deaths in quick succession have left fans and fellow celebrities reeling over the loss of such fearless and talented women.

Meanwhile Fisher's daughter, Billie Lourd is struggling to make sense of the tragedy.

They've also shed light on the close relationship between the three generations of women that a lifetime in the spotlight ensured has been heavily documented.

As the eldest child of singer Eddie Fisher and Reynolds, star of Singin' in the Rain, Fisher joked that her addiction struggles and bipolar disorder made her "truly a product of Hollywood inbreeding. When two celebrities mate, someone like me is the result".

She has spoken at length about her jealousy of her mother's beauty and struggle with her public persona that left little room for her children growing up.

Actress Carrie Fisher.
Actress Carrie Fisher. Contributed

In her autobiography, Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher said doctors and nurses were buzzing around her parents at her birth even though her mother was unconscious with anaesthetic and her father had fainted.

"So when I arrived I was virtually unattended. And I have been trying to make up for that fact ever since."

She also said she and her brother did not like "sharing" her mother and being known as Debbie Reynold's daughter, feeling awkward and insecure around the glamorous star.

They slept on the rug next to her bed to be close to her and watched her putting on makeup.

"I think it was when I was 10 that I realised with profound certainty that I would not be, and was in no way now, the beauty that my mother was. I was a clumsy-looking and intensely awkward, insecure girl ...

"I decided then that I'd better develop something else - if I wasn't going to be pretty, maybe I could be funny or smart." she wrote in her autobiography.

The pair had a rocky relationship at times due to Fisher's addictions and the blurred lines between their public and private lives.

Fisher also made light of her father's leaving her mother for Elizabeth Taylor, saying he consoled her after the death of her husband and "ultimately, he consoled her with his penis."

Reynolds has said it took 30 years for Fisher to be "happy with her" and she didn't know what the problem was, but "I don't bake cookies and I don't stay home."

She told People magazine that being "estranged" for a period was the most "difficult time of all" that was "very heartbreaking".

However they eventually repaired their relationship and Fisher said her mother taught her to "sur-thrive". She even suggested Fisher have a child with her last husband Richard, saying it would have nice eyes.

"I think she just thought, you know, my womb was free and we're family," Fisher said.

It seems Fisher learned certain lessons she applied to her own relationship with her daughter Billie Lourd, who also acts.

She recently told Teen Vogue Fisher raised her to be "true, kind and confident in yourself".

"She raised me to not think of men and women as different.

"She raised me without gender. It's kind of the reason she named me Billie. It's not about being a strong woman - it's about being a strong person.

"She once told me, 'I never sat you down with a credo. It was more about leading by example'."


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