Departed

Cal Thomas: The secret Debbie Reynolds shared with me about 'Singin' in the Rain'

Legendary entertainer's death comes one day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher

 

In 2005, I interviewed Debbie Reynolds in Los Angeles for a show I hosted on Fox New Channel at the time called “After Hours.” One of the stories she told me was about her co-starring role with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in the classic movie, “Singin’ in the Rain.”

Debbie was only 19 at the time the film was shot. She said she was so scared and overwhelmed that she hid under a piano to try to calm herself. The piano was covered with a white sheet that draped down almost to the floor. Suddenly she became aware of two feet invading her “safe space.” She was crying.

“Who is under there?” said the voice. When she came out it was Fred Astaire. He was shooting a film in a nearby studio.

“What’s the matter?” He asked. She told him she was afraid she wouldn’t get her dance steps right and embarrass herself before two accomplished actors and dancers.

“Who is under there?” said the voice. When she came out it was Fred Astaire. He was shooting a film in a nearby studio.

“Come with me,” said Astaire. Astaire, she said, never allowed outsiders onto his closed sets, but Debbie said he took her onto his set, rehearsed her dance steps and sent her back to the other set with renewed confidence. Debbie told me they did several dozen takes of the big dance scene – the one that ends with all three tipping over a couch and that her feet were bloody, but it worked thanks to her persistence and Fred Astaire’s help. That scene, along with the entire film, still delights audiences today. That’s why it’s called a classic. 

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America". Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.