Wednesday, Dec. 28 was another sad day when Debbie Reynolds died at the age of 84 only one day after her 60-year-old daughter, Carrie Fisher, passed. It's absolutely heartbreaking, but it's also a time to celebrate both of their lives and their talents. There's no doubt Reynolds will forever be remembered for her role as Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain, among many others, but it's time to discuss the Debbie Reynolds role that no one appreciated enough.
Thanks to my parents, I grew up watching the classics and old films starring some of the best actors of that time, including Reynolds. Before even watching her in one of my favorite movies, Singin' in the Rain, I sat down with my mom and watched her in the 1963 film My Six Loves. You may have never heard of it, but it's a must-watch.
The movie follows Reynolds as Janice Courtney, a Broadway star. After suffering from exhaustion, a doctor orders her to rest, so Janice heads to her Connecticut home. The relaxation quickly turns into chaos upon Janice discovering six kids (one played by My Three Sons' Barry Livingston) and a large dog living alone in a shack on her property. What does she do? She takes them in, of course. With help from her friend Ethel (Eileen Heckart, The Bad Seed) and Reverend Jim Larkin (Oscar-winner Cliff Robertson), Janice cares for the six kids and eventually falls in love with them. By the movie's end, she ends up with Jim and adopts all of her six loves.
It might not have earned any major nominations or scored Reynolds a Golden Globe or Academy Award, but My Six Loves is a special movie. In addition to the adorable kids, the unforgettable Cliff Robertson, and the sweet story, Janice Courtney is someone to admire.
It's not a big deal today to see an independent woman living a single life, focusing on her career, fighting for herself, and standing on her own two feet without a man by her side. However, in the '60s that wasn't something you saw a lot or that was easily accepted.
Enter Reynolds as Janice Courtney, who is a single woman working hard to make her dreams come true, making her own money, and holding her own among powerful men in Hollywood. As much as Janice's producer, Marty (David Janssen, known for The Fugitive TV series in the '60s), tries to persuade her back to the Broadway life, she stood up to him and followed her heart. She doesn't let anyone tell her what she should or shouldn't do. Janice is in control of her own life and makes others very well aware of that.
Janice brings a whole new perspective to who women are, what women can do, and that women should never ever settle. To watch Reynolds portray this type of character definitely impacted my life — and still does.
As if that's not enough, The Unsinkable Molly Brown star's wit and ability to make other's laugh also shines throughout the film. Reynolds never failed when it came to her comedic skills, which she showcased in My Six Loves. Furthermore, her powerful and beautiful singing voice is like a character of its own in the film.
She surely left quite the legacy, but especially as Janice Courtney. Thank you, Reynolds, for bringing such amazing women to life and inspiring all of us in the process.
Now do yourself a favor and go watch Reynolds shine in My Six Loves.