Book excerpt: Todd Fisher remembers Carrie and Debbie in "My Girls"

It was a painful loss for movie fans when actress and screenwriter Carrie Fisher and her mother, Oscar-nominated actress Debbie Reynolds, passed away within hours of one another in December 2016.  But no one would have felt the pain more acutely than Todd Fisher. In his new memoir, "My Girls" (HarperCollins), Fisher writes about his sister Carrie and mother Debbie, recounting a lifetime in the orbit of two irrepressible Hollywood stars.

Read the excerpt below, and don't miss Tracy Smith's interview with Todd Fisher on CBS' "Sunday Morning" June 24!


There's a small, beautiful town in Colorado called Ouray, about fifty miles from Telluride, that's hallowed ground to our family.

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HarperCollins

When Carrie and I were very little, Mom shot a movie called How the West Was Won, in the hills around and above Ouray. A couple of years later The Unsinkable Molly Brown was shot in the same area. We were among the few lucky children of movie stars whose moms loved taking them on location, and Grandma was there to keep an eye on us when Mom was busy filming.

Mom and Grandma fell so in love with that part of Colorado that they bought some land between Ridgway and Ouray, and Grandpaw built a house there. The family spent the Fourth of July and a lot of other happy, magical holidays at that house with Grandpaw and Grandma; and when I was seventeen I bought my first piece of property right down the street from the Ouray house, property I still own and still treasure. Rene and I went there together. Christi and I spent time there, and at her request, some of her ashes were spread on that land. Cat and I have taken many trips to Ouray and will take many more.

But being there with Carrie in September of 2016, walking those streets together that we'd walked with Mom and our grandparents when we were tiny and life was perfect, was incredibly golden for both of us, a day I'll never forget.

We had one more stop to make before we headed back to Telluride. It's a place called Deb's Meadow, in Mom's honor, at a marked turnout above Ridgway, just below the summit of Chimney Rock, and its name is displayed on a wooden sign on a tree. Mom and Robert Preston shot a romantic scene there in How the West Was Won. Harve Presnell sang "I'll Never Say No" to Mom in that meadow in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. (I stood in that exact spot and sang "I'll Never Say No" to Cat on our first trip there.) John Wayne famously rode across Deb's Meadow, his horse's reins in his teeth, a Colt Peacemaker in each hand, taking on four outlaws in the classic 1969 Western True Grit. Carrie and I never went to Ouray or Telluride or anywhere else within striking distance without a special visit to Deb's Meadow.

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Debbie Reynolds, with Carrie and Todd, on location in Colorado filming "How the West Was Won," in a place that would earn the title "Deb's Meadow."

Todd Fisher

I'd just shifted the four-wheel-drive Range Rover into park at the Meadow's entrance when my cell phone rang. I answered it to hear, "Hi, dear. It's your mother. Debbie."

It was such uncanny timing that I almost dropped the phone. So did Mom, when I told her where we were. It wasn't a long conversation, but it was long enough for both Carrie and me to say, "Thank you for bringing us here," and tell her how much it meant to us that, even when she had the massive responsibility of starring in a major motion picture, she never left any doubt in anyone's minds, including ours, that we came first, that we were her best pals and her favorite sidekicks. Whatever she was part of, we were part of, the most important people in the vast universe of Debbie Reynolds, no matter what. Like countless other locations, Deb's Meadow wasn't where Carrie and I watched Mom make movies. It was another beautiful place where Mom and Carrie and I were together while Mom made movies, and I'll always believe that somehow, with a mom's internal GPS, she knew where we were that day and had no intention of letting us take a trip to Deb's Meadow without her.

I still think of that phone call at that exact moment, and it still gives me chills.

Excerpted from "My Girls" by Todd Fisher. Copyright © 2018 by TD Productions LLC. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

      
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