After moving with her family to Burbank, California from El Paso, Texas in 1939, it was only a matter of time before a young Debbie Reynolds was discovered. At the young age of 16, Reynolds was signed to Warner Bros following her seamless win of Miss Burbank in 1948.
A few short years later the young starlet became a household name, landing the career defining role as Kathy Selden in Singin’ in the Rain alongside Hollywood icon Gene Kelly. “Singin’ in the Rain and childbirth were the two hardest things I ever had to do in my life,” Reynolds would later recall according to Parade.
The hard work paid off in the end and Reynolds went on to star in an abundance of other roles including a starring role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (earning her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress) as well as her 1957 role as Tammy in the romantic comedy Tammy and The Bachelor.
Tammy and The Bachelor told the story of a 17-year-old girl living on a houseboat in Mississippi with her grandfather and her closest friend, Nan the pet goat. Tammy is constantly lost in daydreams about what life outside the swamp is like until one day she and her grandfather discover a unconscious man amongst plane wreckage.
Tammy and her grandfather help nurse the man, Peter, back to life, and she quickly falls madly in love with “the bachelor.” To express his gratitude for saving his life, Peter tells them that Tammy would be welcome to come live with him should anything ever happen to her grandfather. Miraculously, a few weeks later her grandfather is arrested for making moonshine and Tammy sets off to find her lost love.
Her love for Peter rapidly grows as they spend more time together, prompting the young girl to sing of her love for him in a pinnacle scene of the film. The song, “Tammy,” went on to win a Oscar nomination as well as earn Reynolds her first No.1 hit. The song went on to become the best-selling single by a female vocalist in 1957.
“Does my lover feel what I feel, when he comes near?/ My heart beats so joyfully, you’d think that he could hear!” sang Reynolds. “Wish I knew if he knew what I’m dreaming of! Tammy! Tammy! Tammy’s in love!”
Reynolds passed away at the age of 84 from a fatal stroke following the news that her daughter Carrie Fisher had passed away. You can watch the legend perform “Tammy” in the video below.