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Fans Gather at Public Memorial, Celebrate Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds

  • Associated Press

FILE - Debbie Reynolds (left) and Carrie Fisher arrive at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, Sept. 10, 2011.

Hundreds of fans and friends of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher gathered for a public memorial honoring the celebrated mother and daughter.

The two-hour ceremony Saturday was a mix of music and dance spliced with some never-before-seen footage of the mother-daughter duo reflecting on their lives. The poignant event was a laughter-filled memorial for the late actresses.

The ceremony was led by Todd Fisher, who lost his mother and sister one day apart in late December. Fisher said his mother didn't like memorials, so he was calling it a show that would reveal his loved ones like never before.

Deaths a day apart

Fisher, 60, an actress and writer who starred as Princess Leia in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, died December 27 after suffering a medical emergency days earlier aboard a flight from London. Reynolds, 84, an Oscar-nominated actress who shot to fame after starring in “Singin' in the Rain” at age 19, died the following day after being briefly hospitalized.

“She said, ‘I want to be with Carrie,’” Reynolds’ son, Todd Fisher, told The Associated Press after his mother’s death. “And then she was gone.”

An impromptu memorial created on a blank Hollywood Walk of Fame star by fans of the late actress and author Carrie Fisher, who does not have an official star on the world-famous promenade, is seen in Los Angeles, Dec. 28, 2016.
An impromptu memorial created on a blank Hollywood Walk of Fame star by fans of the late actress and author Carrie Fisher, who does not have an official star on the world-famous promenade, is seen in Los Angeles, Dec. 28, 2016.

People were granted attendance at the event, which was live-streamed, Saturday on a first-come, first-served basis.

The ceremony featured music by James Blunt and “Star Wars” composer John Williams and displayed Hollywood memorabilia that Reynolds collected throughout her life.

Moments included a dance tribute by performers from the dance studio Reynolds founded to music from "Singin' in the Rain," the classic film that made her a star.

The ceremony started with a video montage using "Star Wars" music to show Fisher from infancy, displaying tender moments with her and her mother interspersed with highlights from her career.

'Star Wars' remembrance

At the end of the montage, a working R2D2 unit came on stage and mournfully beeped at a picture of Fisher and at an empty director's chair with Fisher's name on it.

Actress Ruta Lee delivered a touching eulogy about Reynolds and her philanthropy. As with much of the ceremony, Lee sprinkled humor throughout.

Dan Aykroyd also cracked jokes, describing Fisher as a chatterbox who never let him speak during their relationship.

The ceremony also featured a new song Fisher's friend James Blunt wrote in memory of her.

The back-to-back deaths of two prominent actresses were stunning, but they were made even more poignant by the women’s complex history. Fisher and Reynolds had a strained relationship that Fisher explored in her writing, but they later reconciled and became trusted confidantes brought closer by painful events in their lives.

Reynolds lost one husband to Elizabeth Taylor, and two other husbands plundered her for millions. Fisher struggled with addiction and mental illness, which she candidly described in books and interviews.

Fisher's last role

Fisher died after finishing work on “The Last Jedi,” the eighth film in the core “Star Wars” saga. Disney CEO Bob Iger said this week that Fisher appears throughout the film, and her performance will not be changed.

Reynolds earned an Oscar nomination for her starring role in “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

The actresses participated in an HBO documentary on their lives called “Bright Lights,” which aired in January.

Todd Fisher organized Saturday’s memorial to give fans an opportunity to honor his mother and sister. Fisher’s daughter, actress Billie Lourd, is expected to attend.

Stars including Meryl Streep, Tracey Ullman and Stephen Fry mourned the actresses at a private memorial in January.

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