Dan Aykroyd, one of the speakers honoring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds during the public memorial for the famed mother-daughter pair, was describing his friend Carrie but could just as easily been speaking of Debbie with these two words: beloved showboat.
The former Saturday Night Live funnyman recalled a long-ago moment when he saved Fisher’s life by performing the Heimlich maneuver. She was choking on a brussels sprout, he said before lamenting, only half jokingly, that he wasn’t on the plane December 27 when Fisher had the heart attack that would kill her. “If I’d been with our beloved showboat,” Aykroyd said, “I might have been able to save her again.”
Aykroyd, once engaged to be married to Fisher, was one of several celebrity friends speaking at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park “Celebration of Life” today for the mother and daughter who died within a day of one another in December. Griffin Dunne, Fisher’s lifelong friend, also spoke, recalling her initial feelings during the filming of what would become a classic.
“What’s it called?” Dunne said he asked Fisher over the phone. “Star Wars, is that one word or two?” Fisher’s response? “It’s terrible. You’re going to hate this movie.”
That, of course, was before either of them saw the film. After Fisher and Dunne attended the Star Wars premiere in New York together – each seeing the movie for the first time – Dunne said he was hit by a realization: “I knew I’d have to share Carrie with a lot more people than our gang.”
Today’s public memorial was organized by Todd Fisher (Reynolds’ son, Fisher’s brother), and was livestreamed on Reynolds’ official website. Fisher’s friend James Blunt, who wrote his hit “You’re Beautiful” in the piano-graced bathroom of Fisher’s home, contributed a new recorded song that was played during a photo montage.
In addition to the speakers, the memorial included performances by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles and a dance tribute from the Debbie Reynolds dance school. Film clips from the careers of both Reynolds and Fisher were shown.
Among the other speakers was Ruta Lee, who described herself as Reynolds’ “sister in charity.” Both Lee and Reynolds long served on the board of The Thalians, a Hollywood mental health charity.
Lee, making no apologies for seeking donations – Reynolds would have approved, she said – asked fans to skip the flowers and stuffed animals that crop up on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after a celebrity dies. “Make a donation to The Thalians,” Lee said, adding that flowers made Debbie Reynolds sneeze.