Her family moved to Burbank, California, in 1939. In 1948, she won the Miss Burbank beauty contest, which resulted in a contract with Warner Bros They gave her a new first name and cast her in small roles in two films.
Debbie then signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She was cast in Three Little Words, which starred Fred Astaire. Her appearance in her second movie at MGM, Two Weeks With Love, received strong notices. She then appeared in Mr. Imperium.
She was chosen for the female lead in Singin' in the Rain despite the fact that Gene Kelly, the star of the musical comedy, was initially opposed to the casting. Reynolds was inexperienced and did not know how to tap dance. She worked hard, however, and turned in a good performance along with Gene and Donald O'Connor. Her participation in the film helped make it one of the greatest musicals ever produced.
She went on to star in numerous motion pictures.
She is the mother of two children, actress Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher.
Debbie was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964), a Golden Globe for The Debbie Reynolds Show on television (1970), a Golden Globe for the motion picture Mother (1997), and a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for In & Out (1997).
In 1997, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award in Comedy.