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Debbie Reynolds to be Honored with 2014 SAG Life Achievement Award

It was announce today, Monday, August 18, 2014, that legendary entertainer Debbie Reynolds will be the recipient of the 2014 SAG Life Achievement Award at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. The SAG Life Achievement Award for humanitarian achievement and career accomplishment is given each year to an actor who cultivates the "finest ideals of the acting profession." Ms. Reynolds, who is an actor, dancer, singer, author, supporter for the preservation of film memorabilia and a champion for those inflicted with mental illness, has been named the 51st recipient of the SAG-AFTRA's highest honor. Reynolds will receive her award during a live simulcast on TNT and TBS on Sunday, January 25 at 8 pm ET.

Photograph of dress worn by Judy Garland in the film 'The Wizard of Oz' sold at the Debbie Reynolds auction for $910,000.00.
Photograph by Kay Shackleton
Debbie Reynolds to be Honored with 2014 SAG Life Achievement Award.
Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen

SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard said about Reynolds, “I'm thrilled that SAG-AFTRA is presenting our Life Achievement Award to Debbie Reynolds. She is a tremendously talented performer with a diverse body of screen and stage work, live performances and several hit records. Her generous spirit and unforgettable performances have entertained audiences across the globe, moving us all from laughter to tears and back again. Congratulations, Debbie, on your life achievements.”

Star of more than 50 films, two television series, two Broadway shows, as well as dozens of cabaret, television and concert appearances here and abroad, Debbie Reynolds is celebrating her 66th year in show business.

Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas. Her father was a railroad worker and moved the family to Burbank, Calif., in 1939. Reynolds performed with the Burbank Youth Symphony and in high school plays. She entered The Miss Burbank contest at the age of 16 in hopes of receiving a free scarf and blouse. She won the title and was visited by a talent scout from MGM and Warner Brothers. It was decided by a flip of a coin as to what studio would offer her a screen test. Warner Brothers won the toss and it was Jack Warner that gave Mary Frances a new first name - Debbie.

Reynolds first job was in an uncredited part in the film "June Bride," and she made her formal screen debut as June Haver's younger sister in the musical "The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady," in 1950.

Reynolds had a successful auditioned for a part in the MGM Helen Kane bio pic "Three Little Words," which made Reynolds a contract player for MGM. Her next film for MGM was for the Busby Berkeley musical "Two Weeks with Love." On this film Reynolds teamed with Carleton Carpenter to sing a version of the 1914 song "Aba Daba Honeymoon," which sales were over $1.2 million. It was this success that convinced MGM boss Louis B. Mayer to select Reynolds to play the part of Kathy Seldon in one the world's most loved musicals of all time, "Singin' in the Rain," which also starred Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor.

After her giant success with "Singin' in the Rain," Reynolds starred in over 25 movies over a 10 year period. Her role in the film "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," garnered Reynolds her first and only Academy Award nomination. She also starred in the Cinerama epic "How the West Was Won," which won three Oscars and five nominations; "Tammy and the Bachelor," which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Song for the ballad "Tammy," which became a No. 1 song and garnered Reynolds with a gold record; "The Tender Trap," which also starred Frank Sinatra; "The Pleasure of His Company," a film she co-starred and danced with Fred Astaire; the adaption of the Broadway hit "Mary, Mary;" starring with Walter Matthau and Tony Curtis in "Goodbye Charlie;" the comedy "Divorce American Style," also starring Dick Van Dyke and Jason Robards; and starring opposite with James Garner in "How Sweet It Is."

Since her first starring role in film, Reynolds has not stopped working. She continues to work in film and television roles, she performs regularly in Las Vegas, and has a singing and dancing act that she takes on the road.

Reynolds also saved and collected many items of film memorabilia in hopes of creating her own movie museum. Although her hopes for a museum were not as successful as she had wished, it did bring attention to that fact that Hollywood did not have a decent film museum to house all of its finest artifacts.

Over the last few years, Reynolds sold her collection via three different auctions, in which the entertainer earned millions of dollars.

Debbie Reynolds has been married three times. With her first husband, crooner Eddie Fisher, she had two children: Carrie Fisher of "Star Wars" fame and Todd Fisher.

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