By Gene Maddaus
The tribute spanned decades of Hollywood history, with a hip-hop version of “Singin’ in the Rain,” scores of candid family photographs, and an appearance by R2D2.
“My mother didn’t like funerals and memorials,” said Todd Fisher, who organized the tribute to his mother and sister. “She liked shows.”
Fans started lining up outside the Hall of Liberty at 7 a.m., seeking to pay their respects one last time. Kenneth Parkhurst, 43, drove down from his home in the Sacramento area.
Debbie Reynolds’ son and Carrie Fisher’s brother, Todd, embraces R2D2 at his mother and sister’s memorial (Photo by Stewart Cook/Variety/REX/Shutterstock).
“I have a life-size Yoda at my home. Star Wars is part of who I am,” Parkhurst said, adding that he found it a touching send-off. “Everyone knows Carrie as a princess. You got to learn about Carrie as a person.”
“Carrie’s life would never be the same,” he said. “Our friendship never changed.” Gavin de Becker, who was also part of the Beverly Hills group, delivered deeply heartfelt remarks in which he remembered Fisher’s electric presence as a teenager.
“We all had a crush on Carrie like you wouldn’t believe,” he said. They would go down the hallway together singing “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” her life was touched with glamour, he said.
“Carrie’s life was a walk with great people,” he said. “Her parties were legendary.”
De Becker also noted Fisher’s habit of revealing herself, warts and all, and how it made her a symbol of acceptance and of women’s power.
She showed, he said, “that it’s possible to be dignified, and even elegant, in that mess.”
Reynolds’ friends also spoke about her lifelong love of dance and her support for charities. Of special note was her support for the mental health of returning veterans, a cause that arose from her USO tours during the Korean War.
“I have great respect for Debbie Reynolds. I felt a kinship with her personally,” said Leytes Styles, a fan from Simi Valley who showed up at 7:30 a.m. for the 1 p.m. service.
Styles and her friend were lined up alongside Star Wars fans. “You had both generations,” she said. “It was beautifully done.”
Mary Valenti, of Tampa, Fla., was on vacation with her family, and came to the service straight from the airport.
“As a girl with five brothers, Princess Leia was my hero growing up,” Valenti said. “She was everything to me.”