Todd Fisher, who lost both his sister Carrie Fisher and their mother Debbie Reynolds within 24 hours of each other, said he’s comforted knowing they are together because, he said, “my mother wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“From the family’s perspective, this is Debbie’s destiny,” Todd Fisher told ABC News’ “20/20.” “She didn’t want to leave Carrie and did not want to her to be alone.
“She didn’t die of a broken heart,” he added. “She just left to be with Carrie…Carrie was a force of nature in her own right, you know, it took another force of nature to bridle and work with that and she was great with her.”
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The “Star Wars” actress died on Tuesday at age 60, days after she went into cardiac arrest while on a flight from London to Los Angeles. Then on Wednesday, Reynolds died following a stroke. She was 84.
“It wasn’t that [Reynolds] was sitting around inconsolable, not at all,” Todd Fisher said. “She simply said that she didn’t get to see Carrie come back from London, she expressed how much she loved my sister.
“She then said she really wanted to be with Carrie,” he continued. “In those precise words, and within 15 minutes from that conversation she faded out and within 30 minutes, she technically was gone.”
Todd Fisher, who was sitting with his mother when she died, said it seemed like Reynolds just closed her eyes and went to sleep.
“We’re broken-hearted, those of us that are left behind,” he said. “We also are happy that they’re together. It’s horrible, it’s beautiful, it’s magical they are together, it’s beyond words, it’s beyond understanding.”
Carrie Fisher and her mother had a strained relationship at times, but they had become extra close in recent years. Todd Fisher said the relationship his mother and sister had was a “magical” love story with “many ups and downs, but not at the heart level.”
The biggest tribute to his sister and mother’s relationship, Todd Fisher said, is the upcoming HBO documentary “Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds,” which follows their everyday lives living next door to each other in California. HBO announced today that the doc will debut on Jan. 7.
Todd Fisher said his mother got to see “Bright Lights” before she died and said it made her realize how much she loved her children.
“She at her core felt that [her children were] her greatest production or her greatest accomplishment, she made no bones about it,” he said. “And she did the ultimate balancing act in life where she was able to be a mother and have that career.”
Reynolds was a legendary Hollywood actress with a decades-long career in film, on television and on Broadway. Two of her most iconic roles were as Kathy Shelden in the 1952 film, “Singin’ in the Rain,” — she was just 19 years old at the time with little dance experience – and the lead in the 1964 musical “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” which brought Reynolds her only Academy Award nomination.
“Her favorite role was Molly Brown,” Todd Fisher said. “I’m not sure that even Molly Brown was Molly Brown compared to my mother. … She was the eternal optimist.”
Much like her mother, Carrie Fisher also started off in show business at a young age. She found lasting fame as Princess Leia in “Star Wars” — a role she was cast in at age 19. Over the years, Carrie Fisher was open about her longtime struggle with drug addiction and bipolar disorder. Later in life, she also became an accomplished writer, known for her candidness.
Todd Fisher said no one was more proud of Carrie Fisher’s career than their mother.
“The fact that Carrie could overcome these incredible obstacles, bipolar disorder and all the things that come with that, and it’s no simple matter,” he said. “She was a powerful woman and people like that about her. But she was also the most vulnerable little girl I know.”
Both women also dealt with personal love and loss. Todd and Carrie Fisher were both born to Reynolds and her then-husband Eddie Fisher, who divorced Reynolds in 1959 to be with Elizabeth Taylor — an affair that set off an enormous public scandal. Reynolds would go on to marry twice more, and both marriages ended in divorce.
Carrie Fisher married singer-songwriter Paul Simon, but the marriage ended after less than a year. Todd Fisher said Simon’s songs, “Hearts and Bones” and “Diamonds On the Soles of Her Shoes,” were inspired by his sister.
Todd Fisher said his mother adored her fans and went to great lengths to meet with them. Similarly, he said his sister would do the same, crisscrossing the country to meet with fans at Comic-Con and other events.
“Carrie and my mom are not the same,” Todd Fisher said. “[But] there was a side of Carrie that knew that she needed to do what Debbie did. We were brought up that way.
“[Carrie] see these waves of people who love her and they say things like she’s my idol. That’s a big responsibility,” he added. “Debbie’s had millions of people like that and Carrie’s had millions of people like that.”
Todd Fisher said he’s planning a joint funeral for his mother and sister together with his niece, Carrie Fisher’s 24-year-old daughter, Billie Lourd. He said they will be buried next to each other and “among friends,” including famed pianist Liberace and actress Bette Davis, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
While the family was choosing where they would be buried, Todd Fisher said hummingbirds appeared at one particular spot and he said he knew that was the place for them.
“My mother loves hummingbirds, and had hummingbirds in her yard,” he said. “We were going all over the place, and we got to this one place to look at this one thing, these hummingbirds came, and it was just like ‘fait accompli,’ as my mother would say.”
Todd Fisher said he would want his mother to be remembered as a “great, strong person” who was an inspiration to others, and his sister as an “amazing champion of women.”
“You know, Carrie’s Molly Brown too, let’s face it,” he said. “She is the Molly Brown with the diamonds on the sole of her shoes.”
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