REMEMBERING DEBBIE REYNOLDS, CARRIE FISHER
Debbie Reynolds was my neighbor, she lived three floors above me,at the Regency Towers inside the Las Vegas Country Club.
My wife Cara would see her in the elevator, but I didn’t meet here in the towers. I did, however, hear some wonderful stories about what a character she was and how kind she treated everyone.
The best story: She came into the Regency Towers’ lobby one night a bit tipsy and while chatting with some friends and Regency staff, let it be known she could still do the splits.
And plop, ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown” proved it right there. I walked by, on the way to the elevator, a minute or two later, not realizing it was Debbie and her group. She was upright by then and there much laughter.
Reynolds owned a 12th floor condo at Regency Towers for more than 40 years, starting in 1974 shortly after it opened. Former reputed mobsters Moe Dalitz and Tony Spilotro were among the early residents. I moved into the towers in 1999 and regularly chatted with one of her relatives, not Carrie, who was living in the condo. She kept apologizing for having such an ill-tempered dog.
The first time I was talked to Debbie and daughter Carrie Fisher was in 2001 when Debbie was the Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Woman of the Year at the Black and White Ball.
Afterwards, I approached Debbie as she and Carrie were on their way out of the ballroom. I asked Debbie a question and Carrie chimed in with a hilariously obscene quip that that I can’t share.
They also showed up for Elizabeth Taylor’s 75th birthday at The Ritz- Carlton at Lake Las Vegas on Feb. 27, 2007. My most vivid memories of that evening: Liz was laden with diamonds and, of course, was wearing her iconic 33.19-carat Krupp diamond. It was purchased by her husband, actor Richard Burton, in 1968 for $305,000 as a gift for Taylor. At that time Taylor was a two-Academy Award winner and celebrated as the most beautiful woman in the world.
The Krupp diamond was named after German actress Vera Krupp, who was married German Arms manufacturer, Alfried Krupp Von Bohlen und Halbach from 1952 to 1957. She lived at the Spring Mountain Ranch outside Las Vegas from 1955 to 1967. She had the diamond stolen at gunpoint at the ranch in 1959. The FBI quickly caught the thieves and recovered the ring.
It was sold a couple years ago by Taylor’s estate for $8.8 million. Another memory from that star-studded birthday party: Steve and Elaine Wynn were among the celebrities who showed up. During an interview on the red carpet, a sound man for a TV station lost control of the microphone as he was extending it into position near Wynn’s head and suddenly bonked the billionaire on the head.
Wynn kept talking, without missing a beat.
The hot rumor of the night was that Michael Jackson, Liz’s pal, was going to show up for the party. But if he did, he didn’t walk the red carpet gauntlet. I was told later that he wasn’t there.
The news that Debbie died Wednesday, a day after Carrie, took the breath out of us. What a talented mother and daughter.