Debbie Reynolds is spunky through and through. Growing up dirt-poor in Texas during the Depression, she was a tomboy who was always getting into fights. As a teenager in Burbank, California, she became the class clown, and, in 1948, she was crowned Miss Burbank by imitating Betty Grable. Warner Bros. signed her first, but Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer made her a star in SINGING IN THE RAIN--Gene Kelly taught her to dance from scratch. When she married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955, the couple became America’s sweethearts. A year later, however, when producer Mike Todd was killed in a plane crash, the widowed Elizabeth Taylor turned to Fisher for comfort, and poor Debbie was out in the cold. “Debbie, you’re really a square,” said the triumphant Liz.

Yet the all-American spunk that made her a star stood Reynolds in good stead. She had the last laugh when Taylor left Fisher for Richard Burton. Though her second marriage to millionaire Harry Karl ended in disaster--Karl became an obsessive gambler and robbed her blind--through years of hard work and true grit, Debbie taught herself the craft of staying alive in show business. She produced and starred in the long-running hit musical IRENE and developed a show act that she takes to Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and around the country for months every year.

Today Reynold’s daughter Carrie Fisher is a star in her own right, Reynolds is married again, this time happily, and she is determined to keep working “as long as the people want me.” Though touched with tragedy, DEBBIE is not a tear-jerker; it is instead a compellingly dry-eyed tribute to the power of perseverance.