Debbie Reynolds revisits youthful memories with the Oklahoma City Philharmonic 

Debbie Reynolds is one of those legends who has seemingly been around forever. Alongside names like Gene Kelly, Eddie Fisher and " heaven forbid " Elizabeth Taylor, images of the glitzy, glamorous Reynolds often come to mind.


But unlike La Liz, Reynolds is still a vital part of the Hollywood scene " a jet-set global icon who still practices what she does best: entertainment.

She will make an Oklahoma City appearance with the Philharmonic in an 8 p.m. Saturday performance at the Civic Center Music Hall.

"I am really looking forward to Oklahoma City and working with the Philharmonic," Reynolds said from her Los Angeles home. "The evening is entitled 'Your Musical Childhood.' It's beautiful, wonderful music, and I narrate 'Peter and the Wolf.'"

Reynolds is no stranger to this part of the country. She was born in El Paso, Texas, in 1932, and her mother hails from Oklahoma. Like her childhood neighbors to the north, Reynolds survived both the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression.

"My dad moved us to California when I was 7," she said. "He worked for the railroad and wanted a better life for us because we were rather poor. So I was raised in Burbank (Calif.) and got my start in the movies when I was 16."

Starring in classics like "Singin' in the Rain," "How the West Was Won" and "Tammy," she quickly became one of Hollywood's leading ladies. In 1965, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

After a much-publicized split from Eddie Fisher involving her former schoolmate and friend Elizabeth Taylor, Reynolds later embarked on a successful career in Las Vegas. She made a big-screen comeback in 1996 starring as Albert Brooks' "Mother," following it up in 1997 with the Kevin Kline hit "In & Out." She followed that with a 2000 Emmy-nominated stint on TV's "Will & Grace," endearing herself to a new generation of fans.

Today, Reynolds is thrilled at the prospect of working with a full orchestra.

"It's the kind of music you don't experience on records," she said. "If you're a young person today, you have rap and rock 'n' roll and you have a lot of popular music, but you don't necessarily hear symphonic music. All young people should be introduced to it at some point.

"I took my own kids to symphonies and ballets when they were young. They weren't too crazy about the ballet and they didn't like opera, but they did like the symphony."

In addition to her touring schedule, Reynolds and her son, Todd Fisher, are finalizing plans for a museum to house her extensive collection of Hollywood memorabilia. She said the Tennessee venue will open in Pigeon Forge, near Dolly Parton's Dollywood theme park.

"I've been collecting since 1970, and own Judy Garland's 'Dorothy' dress from 'The Wizard of Oz,' as well as Marilyn Monroe's famous white subway dress from 'The Seven Year Itch,'" she said. "I own more than 4,000 costumes, including some from my own films."

Music played an important role throughout Reynolds' childhood and continues to shape and inspire her life. She remembers when her parents took out a $100 loan to buy her a French horn, which she still has today. 

"I keep saying I'm going to drag it out and start playing again," she said, with a laugh. "It's ridiculous, but I sometimes think maybe I'll be discovered playing it, and I'll be asked to join a symphony and I'll be sitting somewhere in the horn section, an old lady playing her French horn."  "Mark Beutler

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Mark Beutler

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