The late, great Debbie Reynolds will be present at TCM Classic Film Festival in Los Angeles — through her iconic movie dresses.
Select outfits Reynolds wore in 1952’s Singin’ in the Rain and 1964's The Unsinkable Molly Brown will be on display, seen for the first time in decades, during the fan-friendly festival that runs April 6 to 9.
Todd Fisher, 59, Reynolds' son and Fisher’s brother, is overseeing the dress display following a public memorial he organized for the famed mother-daughter duo on Saturday. He believes the dress display is the next best thing to having Reynolds present.
“Obviously, if you can have Debbie standing there, that is the ultimate,” says Fisher. “But the second best would be to have the costumes Debbie wore during the films. And the third best would be to have Debbie’s genes, that's me. That’s what people are getting.”
Reynolds was known for collecting and preserving valuable movie memorabilia during her lifetime. Two of the dresses that will be on display are from Molly Brown: the lively green number Reynolds wore in the Belly Up to the Bar, Boys dance number and the red dress she wore in the final song and dance routine with Harve Presnell.
Reynolds was nominated for an Oscar for playing the scrappy Molly Brown, a character with whom she keenly identified.
“You just never give up. You do it to the best of your abilities and beyond. That was Molly Brown, and that's Debbie," Reynolds told USA TODAY in 2016. "I felt very akin to that character.”
Reynolds' dress from the Good Morning song and dance she performed with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor in Singin’ in the Rain will round out the display.
“That was her favorite dance number, certainly my favorite dance number,” says Fisher. “If you have to pick one, Good Morning is the quintessential number for Debbie. It also showcases her unmitigated gall to think she could dance with the two of them. And she did it.”
The dresses have been in storage after undergoing the same preservation work as historical garments on display in Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum. They will eventually go on permanent display at the Debbie Reynolds Dance Studios in Los Angeles.
“These connect the dots from the movies in many ways,” says Fisher. “As Carrie once put it, ‘These are the things that remain.’ They are like Picasso’s paint brushes. These are the things that made the movie great and they are the last things worn or touched by the stars that made these movies."