In 2004, during Season 1 of Tavis Smiley’s television show on PBS, we invited Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher to sit for an interview—together—to celebrate Mother’s Day. I’d worked for Carrie before, as a researcher on her talk show Conversations from the Edge, so I was used to her acerbic wit, but it was my first time to meet Debbie. She was so charming she sparkled.
I felt like an idiot when I gave them my usual spiel as we walked to set. Those two certainly didn’t need my instructions on how to avoid the cabling and to safely cross a set…
I led them up to the stage where Tavis was waiting. Carrie followed, greeted Tavis warmly, and sat on the guest couch to chat before the show. Debbie, on the other hand, did not follow. Instead, she was making the rounds, introducing herself to every staff and crew member. She shook hands and said, “Hi, I’m Debbie Reynolds. Thank you for your work.”
When she was finished, she turned on her daughter. “Carrie! You have to greet the crew! Did I not teach you right? The crew are the most important people on set! Before you sit down to talk to the host, you thank the crew!”
We all laughed as Carrie rolled her eyes and sighed, “MOM!” And then, a little nod, “Hello, Crew.”
Daughter. Mother. We’re all the same.
Today, I picture Debbie running after Carrie reminding her to be polite to everyone she meets in the afterlife…
I’m sure Tavis will rerun the episode as a tribute. You should watch it. It was one of my favorite interviews, ever.