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Letter from New York: 'Wishful Drinking,' with a cameo by Mother

December 18, 2009 |  7:33 am

Carrief At a recent Broadway performance of Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” the one-woman show about her life in Hollywood at its most dysfunctional, the audience gasped -- and then applauded --when it learned her mother, '50s movie star Debbie Reynolds, was in the house.

Early in the second act at the Roundabout Theater’s Studio 54, Fisher pointed out her mom and heads whipped around, people stood up for a closer look and more than a few of us sucked in our breath.

Yikes, hadn’t Fisher just spent the last hour artfully, hilariously, painfully, lambasting her crazy family with the sharpest aim at Reynolds and her father, crooner Eddie Fisher, and their disastrous marriage? (To update the ugly tale of how her dad dumped her mom for Elizabeth Taylor, Fisher said: "Think of Eddie as Brad Pitt, Debbie as Jennifer Aniston and Elizabeth as Angelina Jolie.")

In fact, while Fisher is probably best known for her role as Princess Leia in "Star Wars" (and that freaky hairdo with the braided buns framing her face) a significant part of her creative oeuvre has been, well, self-referential. “Postcards from the Edge,” her thinly-veiled autobiographical novel, was turned into a movie, and for a while it felt like you couldn’t pick up a women’s magazine without reading of her addictions.

So there was Mom among us, in the flesh -- a sweet-smiling, blond, bubbled-haired little old lady in the 12th row.

Fisher quickly turned the attention back to herself. (Isn’t that the purpose of the show, she aptly noted, to swerve the spotlight her way?) But not before promising to bring 77-year-old Mary Frances Reynolds on stage at the end.

Reynolds did finally join her daughter on stage for a duet of “Happy Days Are Here Again” and an awkward embrace.

From my angle, all that was visible of the petite Reynolds was an arm wrapped around her bulkier daughter and a hand — gently patting her child on the behind.


-- Geraldine Baum

Photo: Carrie Fisher at Studio 54 in New York, where she is performing "Wishful Drinking." Credit: Joan Marcus / Boneau-Bryan-Brown via Bloomberg