Hundreds of fans have said a final farewell to Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher at a public memorial in Hollywood. The famous mother and daughter, who died just a day apart in December, were remembered at Forest Lawn Cemetery, where they were buried together earlier this year.
Actor Dan Aykroyd and Debbie’s son Todd Fisher spoke at the service which took place inside a 1,200-seat auditorium and was live-streamed on the internet. On stage, Todd said: “There were no finer people that I have ever known than my mother and sister.”
Describing the moment his mother died, he said: “She literally asked permission and said she wanted to be with Carrie. “She closed her eyes and went to sleep. It was a very peaceful exit that only my mother could orchestrate. It was a beautiful exit.”
Ghostbusters star Dan paid tribute to his ex-fiancee Carrie, joking that she openly tried to rekindle her romance with singer Paul Simon while they were dating. “From beginning to end – sharp, hilarious, plunging, laughing, whooping, soaring, exhilarating Carrie,” he said.
“She had long conversations on the phone in my presence with Paul Simon with whom she was attempting to reconcile at the time of my relationship with her. “Here I found myself in love with a woman who was returning to a former intimate, and might I say a better choice.”
Dan said he once saved Carrie’s life when she was choking on a Brussels sprout.
“If I’d been with our beloved showboat I might have been able to save her again,” he added. Carrie, who shot to fame as Princess Leia in Star Wars, died aged 60 on December 27 after suffering a heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles.
A day later her mother, Singin’ In The Rain star Debbie, 84, died after a suspected stroke.
Fans at the memorial were shown clips from famous movies featuring the two actresses, as well as home videos of Carrie as a child.
Star Wars droid R2-D2 appeared on stage, where he was hugged by Todd. A photo montage was played to You’re Beautiful by James Blunt, a close friend of Carrie who wrote the song in her bathroom.
Another song written by James as a tribute to Carrie was also played for the first time during the service.
Carrie’s beloved dog Gary was brought to the event, where the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles sang a rendition of True Colours.
Dancer from Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio performed a tribute to Singin’ In The Rain. Costumes and memorabilia from the careers of Debbie and Carrie were also on display.
Writing in the memorial programme, Todd and his wife Catherine said both actresses “lived every precious minute of their lives”. “They left nothing undone and nothing unsaid,” they wrote. “They both loved a great party so what better way to celebrate them than to throw them one?”
Some fans queued for more than seven hours for a place inside the service. Grace Farenbaugh from Burbank, California, was the first fan to arrive outside the Hall of Liberty at 5.30am.
“I’m a huge fan of both of them,” she told the Press Association. “I feel they are part of my family. I knew Carrie for a short while. She was helping me with a book. “She was as funny and genuine as anyone can imagine.”
Liza Rios-Proprofsky from Orange County, California, said she was a huge fan of Star Wars actress Fisher and she wanted to honour her with “like-minded people”.
“Star Wars has been a part of our child narrative,” she said. “When Carrie Fisher passed, it was actually like a member of the family had left us. “When I was a little girl, here was this strong woman who was a princess who could take charge. “We knew that if we came here we would be with people who are like-minded, that would understand how we felt.”
Debbie and Carrie were laid to rest at a funeral on January 6, where the ashes of Fisher were carried in an urn shaped like a Prozac pill. The Star Wars actress had spoken publicly about her battle with bipolar disorder and drug problems during her life.