This Story Proves Just How Generous Debbie Reynolds Really Was

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Hollywood is a little bit dimmer now that one of its brightest stars has faded.

Debbie Reynolds—star of Singin’ in the Rain and other film classics—died Wednesday at age 84, just one day after her daughter, actress Carrie Fisher, suddenly passed away at age 60. In light of the tragedies, Reynolds’ fans and friends took to social media to share their sympathies.

One of the most heartwarming tributes came courtesy of Kristen Anderson-Lopez (of Frozen songwriting fame). The Grammy-winning lyricist’s chance encounter with the screen legend serves as another reminder of how generous Reynolds was with both her talent and her time.

“My Debbie Reynolds story: January, 1995. I’m an acting apprentice at the Jupiter theatre in Jupiter, Fla., and have been cast as a swing to 14 showgirls in Will Rogers Follies. This means I have to learn all their choreography, harmonies, and most importantly, figure out how to walk down a giant staircase in high heels and a glittery bikini while wearing a 30-pound, 5-feet tall headdress,” she tweeted. “This is not in my DNA and they did NOT teach this at Williams.”

“So Debbie Reynolds is there doing a weekend of concerts and I am struggling. Like tears-streaming-down-my-face struggling because I am practicing on the rehearsal steps and it was funny when it happened to Lucille Ball but my life is not a sitcom—it’s a tragedy about to unfold for an over-educated 22 year old at a B-level dinner theatre 45 minutes north of Palm Beach,” Anderson-Lopez continued. “And Debbie watches me lurch sideways as my headdress falls off yet again and says, ‘Honey, can I show you a trick I learned in my studios days?’ And I say, ‘Sure, Debbie Reynolds! Also, sorry about my shoddy spotlight work during your concert tonight.’ And she says, ‘Tomorrow, just follow the one in the sparkly red dress—that’s me.'”

As Reynolds coached Anderson-Lopez, she told her, “You know, you are horrible at this.”

“And I say, ‘Yup.’ And she proceeds to show me how to keep looking at the light and following the lip of each stair with the heel of my shoe,” Anderson-Lopez wrote. “She had me practice a few times—always correcting me as I looked down. ‘Keep looking straight ahead!’ she yelled.”

“And I did. And she left. And I went on several times,” Broadway’s In Transit co-creator said. “While I didn’t look like a showgirl, I didn’t knock anyone over. Headdress always stayed on.”

Warm and witty until the very end, her generosity of spirit won’t be forgotten. “RIP Debbie Reynolds,” she wrote. “I certainly hope you have a better spotlight operator wherever you are.”

Albert Brooks, Kimberly J. Brown, Joan Collins and Debra Messing—all of whom worked with Reynolds at one point or another over the years—also paid their respects via social media.

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