How Debbie Reynolds Became Carrie Fisher’s Perfect Jewish Mother

Posted on January 8th, 2017
Benjamin Ivry for The Jewish Daily Forward

The witty, multitalented performer Debbie Reynolds, who died on December 28 at age 84, just a day after her daughter Carrie Fisher, surprisingly found herself associated with Judaism both on screen and off.

From celebrity notoriety as the decidedly non-Jewish spouse of Jewish singer Eddie Fisher, Reynolds survived her marriage’s breakup and went on to be cast onscreen as Jewish or crypto-Jewish mothers in later life. TV viewers relished her appearances in the hit comedy “Will & Grace” as Bobbi Adler, Grace’s mother, a frustrated singer and actress who interferes with her children’s personal lives, to the dismay of her husband Martin Adler, played by Alan Arkin. Joyce Antler’s “You Never Call! You Never Write!: A History of the Jewish Mother” classes Bobbi Adler as a “stern-faced, nagging, guilt-tripping caricature” alongside Jewish mothers on such sitcoms as “The Nanny,” “Seinfeld,” and “Suddenly Susan.” Yet unlike these characters, Bobbi Adler as incarnated by Reynolds benefited from the actress’ exuberant glee, charm, and good looks, even when acting out naughtily.

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