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Alec Mapa: Debbie Reynolds was ‘a tireless performer who refused to be discarded by the business’

She was so much fun. I was absolutely star struck when I got to work with her in "Connie and Carla." She arrived on set looking a little delicate after the long plane ride. We all waited on her arrival like she was The Queen. Because to us, she was. She was Kathy Seldon from "Singing In The Rain". She was The Unsinkable Molly Brown. She was the survivor of three disastrous marriages that left her in financial ruin, and a tireless performer who refused to be discarded by the business. She did her own makeup. She said it took her almost an hour to do her foundation. Her years at MGM made her an expert at light and shadow. While being lit on set she playfully told the DP what kind of lighting worked best and she was right. We had a dance number where she nailed every single take. Late into shooting at about 230 AM while they were repositioning cameras she got up and performed her act for the cast and crew . She told dirty jokes, led a sing along, and basically reenergized an entire cast and crew at 3AM . She was magical. Years later we worked together on a gay cruise. She was the queen of The piano bar, turning an entire roomful of muscle queens into mush every happy hour. At 78 she performed two exhaustive ninety minute shows on the main stage. I went backstage to visit her in between shows and she was sitting on a chair in the wings all by herself. I asked if she needed anything, she said no, she just needed to sit quietly in preparation for the next show. She wasn't "on", she was just a still- pretty, heavily made up 78 year old woman taking a much needed breather. It didn't feel right, leaving her alone backstage sitting by herself in the wings, so I asked if it was ok if I sat with her and she said yes. So we sat silently for about half an hour, it should've been awkward and weird but somehow it wasn't . Her assistant came around to prep her for the next round. I gave her hand a squeeze, told her to break a leg and watched the second show. She killed it. She jokingly referred to herself as "Princess Leia's Mother" , as if her own stardom was no longer relevant , but to me she was the truly Unsinkable DEBBIE REYNOLDS. She's earned a much needed rest. May

A photo posted by Alec Mapa (@alecmapa) on

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  1. I was lucky to see her perform, here in Arizona of all places…a few years ago, and managed to get some video of her little tribute to Judy…

    https://youtu.be/xxZhhli1S0o

    ^^X^^

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