God, I love Debbie Reynolds.
Initially, I was only vaguely aware of Debbie as an actress. I knew she did Singin’ in the Rain, and I knew she was a respected actress from the golden age of Hollywood. I liked her but other than that, I had no real frame of reference for who she was as a person.
I started becoming more familiar with her in early 2016 when I became a big Star Wars and Carrie Fisher fan. As I read through Carrie’s books and watched her interviews, I saw Debbie through Carrie’s eyes: a kind yet eccentric woman she loved very much.
After Carrie’s death and her death, I began to read more about Debbie—a remarkable woman in her own right. I read her first memoir, Debbie: My Life, and I was amazed by her life and how she carried herself. But that book barely scratched the surface of her story.
The beginning of Unsinkable picks up where Debbie: My Life left off: she and Richard Hamlett were, she thought, happily married. Unsinkable does a deep dive into the entire saga of her marriage and how the man she called “the devil” brought her into financial ruin again. But this book isn’t a sad story—it’s about resilience and survival.
Aside from her third marriage and her Las Vegas hotel, Debbie also talks about her efforts to create a Hollywood memorabilia museum. As she recounts each step in the road, you can hear the hope she had in her dream. She never gave up on building a museum until it was close to leaving her destitute. With every high and low, you wanted Debbie to succeed. When you realize it ultimately wasn’t meant to be, you feel Debbie’s heartbreak.
The second half of the book features Debbie going through each of her movies and talking about her experiences making some of Hollywood’s classic films. Listening to her tell stories about Bette Davis, Tony Curtis, Tony Randall, and Shelley Winters (among others) made you feel like you were sitting with her for lunch or coffee. Debbie’s delivery was that of a close friend who’s always happy to see you—her stories were funny and clever, making you feel like you were right there with her.
Overall, Debbie’s second memoir is a home run. Hopefully I can listen to or read her final memoir, Make ‘Em Laugh, soon—her stories and her personality are simply delightful.