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16 Iconic Debbie Reynolds Movies, Ranked

Debbie Reynolds, born Mary Frances Reynolds on April 1, 1932, in El Paso, Texas, emerged as one of Hollywood’s most beloved actresses and singers. Her journey to stardom began when she won the Miss Burbank beauty contest at the age of 16, catching the attention of Warner Bros. Shortly after, she signed a contract with the studio and changed her name to Debbie Reynolds. With her infectious charm, undeniable talent, and versatility, Reynolds became a prominent figure in the golden era of Hollywood.

Throughout her illustrious career, Reynolds starred in numerous films, showcasing her acting prowess and captivating audiences worldwide. She was not only a remarkable actress but also an accomplished singer and dancer, earning her a place in the hearts of millions. Despite facing personal challenges and setbacks, Reynolds remained resilient, leaving an indelible mark on the entertainment industry.

Debbie Reynolds movies: Debbie Reynolds classic early 1950's studio publicity portrait.
Debbie Reynolds in a 1950’s photoshoot. Getty

Married three times, Reynolds experienced both triumphs and tribulations in her personal life. Her first marriage to Eddie Fisher produced two children, including the acclaimed actress Carrie Fisher. Tragically, Reynolds died following a stroke on December 28, 2016, one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was 84.

16. The Singing Nun (1966)

Inspired by the true story of Sister Ann, a Belgian nun who unexpectedly becomes a singing sensation, The Singing Nun features Debbie Reynolds in the lead role. As Sister Ann, Reynolds delivers a poignant performance, balancing the character’s devotion to her faith with her passion for music. The film explores themes of faith, fame, and the power of music to uplift the spirit. The movie also stars Ricardo Montalbán and Greer Garson.

15. Bundle of Joy (1956) Debbie Reynolds movies

In this romantic comedy, Debbie Reynolds stars as Polly Parish, a department store clerk who discovers an abandoned baby on her doorstep. With the help of a co-worker (played by Eddie Fisher), Polly embarks on a humorous journey to care for the infant while navigating the complexities of romance. Reynolds’ comedic timing and infectious energy shine in this heartwarming tale of love and family.

14. How the West Was Won (1962)

A sprawling epic spanning several generations, How the West Was Won follows the Prescott family as they journey westward during the 19th century. Debbie Reynolds portrays Lilith Prescott as a resilient pioneer woman who faces numerous challenges as she settles in the untamed wilderness. Reynolds’ performance adds depth to the character, highlighting Lilith’s courage and determination in the face of adversity. The movie also starred James Stewart, John Wayne and Henry Fonda.

13. The Catered Affair (1956)

Set in 1950s New York City, The Catered Affair explores the dynamics of a working-class family as they prepare for their daughter’s wedding. Debbie Reynolds delivers a poignant performance as Jane Hurley, the bride-to-be caught between her desire for a lavish wedding and her family’s financial struggles. Reynolds’ portrayal captures the emotional complexity of Jane’s character, earning critical acclaim for her nuanced performance. The movie also stars Bette Davis and Ernest Borgnine.

12. Goodbye Charlie (1964) Debbie Reynolds movies

In this comedy, Debbie Reynolds takes on the unconventional role of Charlie Sorel, a womanizer who meets an untimely demise and is reincarnated as a woman. As Charlie navigates life in her new female form, Reynolds delivers a humorous and charming performance, showcasing her versatility as an actress. The movie also stars Tony Curtis, Pat Boone and Ellen Burstyn.

11. Affairs of Dobie Gillis (1953) Debbie Reynolds movies

A light-hearted romantic comedy, The Affairs of Dobie Gillis follows the misadventures of Dobie Gillis (played by Bobby Van), a college student torn between two love interests. Debbie Reynolds shines as Pansy Hammer, a sweet and wholesome girl who captures Dobie’s heart. Reynolds’ effervescent charm and comedic flair add depth to the character, making Pansy a memorable part of this delightful comedy. Barbara Ruick also stars in this film.

10. The Mating Game (1959) Debbie Reynolds movies

In this romantic comedy, Debbie Reynolds portrays Mariette Larkin, a young woman who unwittingly becomes entangled in the schemes of a government tax collector (played by Tony Randall). As Mariette navigates the complexities of small-town life and romance, Reynolds delivers a delightful and charming performance, capturing the character’s innocence and determination. The Mating Game also stars Paul Douglas and Fred Clark.

9. Susan Slept Here (1954)

In this romantic comedy, Debbie Reynolds stars as Susan Landis, a teenage delinquent who is placed under the care of a screenwriter (played by Dick Powell) during the holiday season. Reynolds delivers a spirited and endearing performance as Susan, whose presence turns the screenwriter’s life upside down. The film also stars Anne Francis and Glenda Farrell.

8. The Gazebo (1959) Debbie Reynolds movies

A dark comedy thriller, The Gazebo follows the misadventures of a married couple (played by Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds) as they contend with blackmail and murder. Reynolds delivers a standout performance as Nell Nash, a supportive wife caught up in her husband’s increasingly bizarre predicaments. With its blend of suspense and humor, The Gazebo offers a unique showcase for Reynolds’ talents as both a comedic and dramatic actress. The movie also stars Carl Reiner.

7. Mary, Mary (1963) Debbie Reynolds movies

Based on the Broadway play of the same name, Mary, Mary follows the romantic entanglements of a divorced couple who find themselves drawn to each other once again. Debbie Reynolds stars as Mary McKellaway, the spirited and independent ex-wife who navigates the complexities of love and relationships. Reynolds delivers a nuanced and engaging performance. The film also stars Barry Nelson and Diane McBain.

6. Divorce American Style (1967)

In this satirical comedy, Debbie Reynolds portrays Barbara Harmon, a suburban housewife who seeks a divorce from her husband (played by Dick Van Dyke) after years of marital discord. Reynolds delivers a memorable performance as Barbara, capturing the character’s frustration and determination to break free from societal expectations. With its sharp wit and insightful commentary on marriage and divorce, Divorce American Style showcases Reynolds’ talents in both comedy and drama. Jason Robards and Tom Bosley also co-star in the movie.

5. The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)

Based on the real-life story of Margaret Brown, known as The Unsinkable Molly Brown due to her survival of the Titanic disaster, this musical drama stars Debbie Reynolds as the indomitable Molly. Reynolds delivers a captivating performance as the feisty and determined heroine who rises from humble beginnings to become a prominent figure in high society. The movie also stars Harve Presnell and Ed Begley.

4. Tammy and the Bachelor (1957)

In this romantic comedy, Debbie Reynolds portrays Tammy Tyree, a young and innocent girl living in the rural South. When she encounters a wealthy bachelor (played by Leslie Nielsen) who becomes stranded on her family’s property, Tammy’s simple life takes a romantic turn. Reynolds’ endearing portrayal of Tammy captured the hearts of audiences, leading to two successful sequels and a television series spinoff.

3. In and Out (1997)

Starring heavy weights Joan Cusack, Tom Selleck, Matt Dillon and Kevin Kline, Reynolds plays the part of Berniece Brackett, mother of Howard (played by Kevin Kline). This romantic comedy is about a midwestern teacher (Howard) who questions his sexuality after a former student makes a comment about him at the Academy Awards. Reynolds is hilarious as the supportive, loving, yet meddling mother.

2. Mother (1996)

This comedy-drama focuses on John (played by Albert Brooks), a neurotic divorced writer who moves back in with his mother, Beatrice (played by Debbie Reynolds), to try and figure out his emotional and personal problems. Lisa Kudrow also stars in the movie. Reynolds’s timing is perfect.

1. Singin’ in the Rain (1952)

Costarring Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds shines in the role of Kathy Selden. The movie is set during Hollywood’s transition from silent films to those with sound. Singin’ in the Rain follows the romantic and professional struggles of Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly), a popular silent film star, and Kathy Selden (Debbie Reynolds), a young aspiring actress. Reynolds shines as the spirited Kathy, whose journey intertwines with Lockwood’s as they navigate the challenges of the evolving film industry while falling in love.

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