Shared from the 2017-03-26 Chattanooga eEdition

Reynolds and Fisher honored with humor, music and dance

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ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Carrie Fisher kisses her mother, Debbie Reynolds, as they arrive at the 2011 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles. Fisher and Reynolds died one day apart in December 2016.

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LOS ANGELES — Laughter, music and the tapping of dancing shoes reverberated throughout a public memorial to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, which loved ones say is just how the a c t re ss e s would have wanted it.

Th e re were few tears t h ro u g h o ut the two-hour ceremony Saturday, which h o n o re d the mother- d a u g h te r duo’s impact on film, culture and those who knew them with a mix of photos, videos and anecdotes that kept the audience laughing and applauding.

Todd Fisher led the ceremony, which he said was intended to bring fans an intimate view of his mother and sister. He called it a show, saying his mother hated to attend memorials.

Hundreds of fans — some wearing “Star Wars” attire — attended the public ceremony that featured numerous family photos and Reynolds’ final interview reflecting on her life and philanthropy, and one of Fisher’s high school friends sharing some of her off-color emails to him.

A troupe from Reynolds’ dance studio performed an homage to “Singin’ in the Rain,” the film that catapulted Reynolds to stardom at age 19. After an opening film that was an ode to Fisher’s “Star Wars” role, a working R2D2 unit came on stage, mournfully beeped and parked next to a director’s chair with Fisher’s name on it. Across the stage, near a piano, sat an empty chair with Reynolds’ name on it.

Fisher, 60, an actress and writer who starred as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, died Dec. 27 after suffering a medical emergency days earlier aboard a flight from London. Reynolds, an Oscar-nominated actress for her role in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” died the following day at age 84.

Todd Fisher recounted his mother’s final moments and her remark that she wanted to be with her daughter.

“It was a very peaceful exit that only my m o t h e r co u l d h ave o rc h e s t rated,” he said to booming laughter. “She was trained in Hollywood where they teach you to make a great entrance, and exit.”

Fisher and Reynolds had a complex relationship, with some years of estrangement before they reunited and became close confidantes.

Ac to r D a n Ayk royd described Fisher, his onetime fiancée, as a chatterbox who never let him speak. He described using the Heimlich maneuver on her once, and joked that if he had been on the plane where Fisher fell ill in December, he “might have been able to save her again.”

He echoed a sentiment expressed by many early in his remarks. “We really shouldn’t be here this soon,” he said.

The ceremony was attended by several stars, including Renee Russo, Beverly D’Angelo, “Dallas” actress Morgan Brittany, actor-director Fisher Stevens, “Brady Bunch” actress Susan Olsen and actor Griffin Dunne.

Dunne recounted living with Fisher in New York when they were both young actors, and her initial reactions to working on “Star Wars.” He recounted Fisher’s assessment of the film: “It’s stupid and it’s terrible.”

After the first screening, they both knew she had been wrong. “We knew movies would never be the same, and you just knew Carrie’s life would never be the same.”

When speakers weren’t delivering one-liners — some that had been uttered or penned by Fisher and Reynolds — music and dance took over the stage. The ceremony featured a new song James Blunt wrote after Fisher’s death, and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles performed a somber rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” that celebrated Fisher’s status as a feminist icon.

Many paused to snap photos with some of the actresses’ memorabilia that was displayed outside the theater, including two dresses Fisher wore while filming “Star Wars” and “When Harry Met Sally,” and two of Reynolds’ costumes from “Singin’ in the Rain” and “Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

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