Debbie Reynolds – actor, singer, dancer, author, champion for the preservation of the artifacts of film history and for the understanding and treatment of mental illness – has been named the 51st recipient of SAG-AFTRA's highest honor: the SAG Life Achievement Award for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment.
Given annually to an actor who fosters the “finest ideals of the acting profession,” the union’s highest accolade will be presented to the Oscar, Emmy and Tony-nominated Reynolds at the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS on Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 at 8 p.m. (ET), 7 p.m. (CT), 6 p.m. (MT) and 5 p.m. (PT).
SAG-AFTRA President Ken Howard praised Reynolds’ artistry over her very accomplished career, saying, “I’m thrilled that SAG-AFTRA is presenting our Life Achievement Award to Debbie Reynolds. She is a tremendously talented performer with a diverse body of screen and stage work, live performances and several hit records. Her generous spirit and unforgettable performances have entertained audiences across the globe, moving us all from laughter to tears and back again. Congratulations, Debbie, on your life achievements.”
Star of more than 50 motion pictures, two Broadway shows, two television series, as well as dozens of television, cabaret and concert appearances here and abroad, the 82-year-old Reynolds is celebrating her 66th year in show business.
In 1955, Reynolds, along with Jack Haley Jr., Hugh O’Brien and other young stars, founded a charity to fight the stigma of mental illness, calling themselves The Thalians, after the goddess of comedy, Thalia. Over nearly 60 years, The Thalians have raised over $30 million, endowing The Thalians’ Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. With that center’s priorities shifting to other illnesses, The Thalians has shifted its support to UCLA’s Operation Mend, which provides medical and mental health support to returning wounded military personnel. Reynolds was elected The Thalians’ president in 1957, and for many years alternated between that role and chair of the board with Ruta Lee, and currently serves as the organization’s president emeritus. Reynolds has also been a lifelong supporter and fundraiser for the Girl Scouts.
Over her more than six decades in show business, Reynolds has received numerous accolades for her performing and charitable endeavors. Among them, the Costume Designers Guild honored her with its Presidents Award in 2005 for her collection and conservation of classic Hollywood costumes She has received Lifetime Achievement honors from the American Comedy Awards in 1996 and 1997, the Palm Springs International Film Festival in 1999, the Savannah Film and Video Festival in 2002, and Chapman University in 2006. In 2007, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of Nevada, Reno. Fans can view her stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Palm Springs Walk of Stars as well as her hand and footprints at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Her philanthropic activities have earned her national honors from the Girl Scouts, a City of Hope Award, The Thalians’ Ms. Wonderful award, the National Film Society’s Humanitarian Award and a Spirit of Hope medallion from the USO for entertaining the troops during the Korean War.