By Emma Stefansky. Photos: Getty Images.
The deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, a day apart in December, sent a shockwave through Hollywood and the communities of fans who adored them. Both one-of-a-kind talents in their own right, the mother-and-daughter actors left a void that won’t easily be filled, so it’s fitting that their memorial service was unlike any other.
On Saturday afternoon, the Forest Lawn cemetery in Los Angeles held a public ceremony in honor of Reynolds and Fisher that The Hollywood Reporter describes as “jubilant.” The guests included tap dancers, James Blunt, John Williams’ Star Wars themes, and Dan Aykroyd, as well as hundreds of the women’s friends and fans. Montages of career highlights and family photos played on a giant screen in the background, while onstage members of their family spoke about how wonderful both of these women were, and how much they’ll be missed.
“Better late than never, as they say,” said Reynolds’ son and Fisher’s brother Todd Fisher, of the timing of the service three months after both died in December. He explained that the service “is a show and not a memorial because my mother didn’t like memorials and funerals.”
Aykroyd, Fisher’s friend and one-time boyfriend, also paid tribute. “I once saved her life, applying the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge a Brussels sprout, and if I had been with our beloved showboat, I might have been able to save her again,” he said. “I know these women will have a song for us when we arrive at the crossing. After all, we’re only seconds behind.”
“You are all her people — not just her extended family, but her close friends and fans,” Todd Fisher said. “We would be sharing these same kinds of films and photographs, telling the same stories. … You’re gonna see a lot of things you’ve never, ever seen before.”
He also spoke about Reynolds’ last day before she succumbed to the shock of her daughter’s passing: “She looked at me to ask for permission to leave, said she wanted to be with Carrie, closed her eyes and went to sleep. It was a very peaceful exit that only my mother could’ve orchestrated. She was trained in Hollywood, where they teach you to make a great entrance and exit. … A beautiful exit.”
This story originally appeared on Vanity Fair.
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