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Debbie Reynolds dishes on Liz, Frank, and more

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ELIZABETH TAYLOR AND MONTGOMERY CLIFT

At a fateful 1956 party in Beverly Hills, Reynolds watched as Liz and Monty ”laughed and giggled while making out in the water in front of us all…. Even though Monty had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, it was obvious that he and Elizabeth had been intimate. Elizabeth could seduce any man, gay or straight.” But the night turned tragic when Clift was seriously injured in a car crash after leaving Taylor’s house. ”Elizabeth stuck her hand in his mouth, felt the back of his throat where some of his teeth had become lodged after being knocked out, and pulled them out to prevent him from choking. He might have died if she hadn’t come to his aid.”

GENE KELLY

Reynolds recalls a few stormy moments on the set of the classic 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain, especially during a romantic scene with her costar, who was 39 to her 19. ”Gene took me tightly in his arms…and shoved his tongue down my throat. ‘Eeew! What was that?’ I screeched, breaking free of his grasp and spitting…. Gene had stepped back, not amused. After a few minutes, I calmed down enough to face his now-icy stare and we redid the scene as you see it in the film.”

FRANK SINATRA

While filming 1955’s The Tender Trap, in which she plays a lucky gal who snags an eligible playboy (Sinatra), the actress discovered that her costar’s talents weren’t limited to singing and acting. ”Frank was a great kisser. I really enjoyed the scenes where we made out in his apartment or mine.” Reynolds also writes that the film’s production schedule had to be tailored to Sinatra’s hard-partying ways. ”We didn’t shoot much on Mondays because Frank needed to recover from his weekend activities.” Those activities involved ”booze cruises” on Humphrey Bogart’s boat with a bunch of mostly male pals. ”Betty Bacall was the only lady on board,” Reynolds writes. ”I would have loved to be invited, but I never was.”

LESLIE NIELSEN

”Leslie was very gifted,” Reynolds recalls of her costar in the 1957 rom-com Tammy and the Bachelor. ”But [he] fancied himself a Method actor…. The fact is, most of the time Leslie was a pill to work with.” Just how bad was he? ”The goat [in the movie] and I worked very closely. She was certainly more fun than Leslie.”

FRED ASTAIRE

Reynolds couldn’t help getting starstruck when she danced with Astaire in 1961’s The Pleasure of His Company. ”I was so nervous, dancing with the great Fred Astaire. What was I going to do? ‘You don’t have to dance,’ he told me. ‘Just stay with me. Move with me. Follow me and trust me.’ So I did — I put my trust in the best. And it was like dancing on air, a complete joy.” The actress even admits that she had a little crush on her costar: ”If I’d thought he would go for a younger girl, I might have made a move.”

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