Memories: Debbie Reynolds Performing At Navy Base

It’s with great sadness for her many fans that Debbie Reynolds died just hours after her daughter Carrie Fisher passed away. I had the pleasure of meeting Debbie as the 19-year-old’s career was beginning to blossom.

Her first starring movie, Singin’ In The Rain, officially opened in theaters on New Year’s Day 1952. However, as it was the practice at the time, it was shown earlier at military bases. We sailors had a special treat in December 1951 at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi, Texas, when both the film and Debbie herself appeared at the base theater.

Our activated Naval Reserve Carrier Air Group had just returned from six months in the Pacific during the Korean War. Because we called-up reservists had to serve a total of two years’ active duty, I was assigned to the NAS for the next 18 months. I lucked into a fantastic job as chief journalist of the base Public Relations Office.

Among my duties was escorting entertainers, mostly booked by the USO, around the Navy base. I took them to visitor quarters, dined with them at mess hall meals and provided other duties to make their visits comfortable. Among the stars I met there during that time were Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Ethel Merman, Lena Horne, Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds.

As a guy just a couple of years older than the new young movie star, I was smitten by her natural beauty and lively personality. When she went on stage at the base theater and sang Singin’ In The Rain, Good Mornin’ and other songs from the new movie, I was hooked as her faithful fan for life.

If there can be anything positive about the loss of both Debbie and Carrie, we can at least make a wish. I’m sure millions of their fans hope the spirits of mother and daughter are now happily reunited as they bring a bright new glow to the eternal sky.

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