Debbie Reynolds Puts on the Glitz at the Ritz

Debbie Reynolds regales Ritz lunchers.
Debbie Reynolds regales Ritz lunchers.
Elaine Liner

It has to feel good to Debbie Reynolds that she's outlived Elizabeth Taylor. Now a pert and pretty 79, Reynolds was the star of Singin' in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown and more recently is known not just as the real-life "mother of Princess Leia" (Carrie Fisher) but the TV mom of Grace on Will & Grace. She was at the Ritz-Carlton Saturday as the keynote speaker at a mother-daughter luncheon benefiting Jonathan's Place.

How Debbie lost first hubby Eddie Fisher to Liz Taylor is one of Hollywood's great bits of love-lore, the precursor to Brad leaving Jennifer for Angelina. Debbie makes jokes about it now. Turns out her second husband, shoe titan Harry Karl, was even worse than Eddie. Karl gambled away his own millions before losing all of Debbie's. She puts it all in her act, bits of which she performed for the ladies who lunch. She's one of the last great old-time movie studio broads. And she loves an audience. Leaving the lectern, which was too tall for her small stature, Debbie roamed the room with a hand mic, taking questions and at one point kicking into an a capella rendition of "Tammy," her top-selling record from 1957.

Her five best lines from the lunch are after the jump...

• "I never slept alone until I got married."
• "My first husband swam down the Nile."
• "I've decided to be like George Burns and never retire. I'll stay on the stage till I drop dead. Then I'll get stuffed like Trigger and put in a museum. Stick a quarter in me and I'll sing 'Tammy.'"
• "I enjoyed kissing Frank Sinatra [in 1955's The Tender Trap]. I'd like to have done more but I didn't."
• "The only person in Hollywood dumber than I am with marriage is Burt Reynolds. I should marry him. I wouldn't have to change my name and we could share wigs."

In June Debbie Reynolds is auctioning off some of her collection of more than 5,000 movie costumes and memorabilia, including Marilyn Monroe's famous white dress from The Seven-Year Itch, Charlie Chaplin's bowler and Harpo Marx's top hat. More about the auction and Debbie's schedule of club dates here.

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The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas

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