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Todd Fisher remembers ‘Debbie’s Midnight Movies’ in Las Vegas

When talking to Todd Fisher, it’s helpful to know that “Debbie” equals “Mom. That’s because Fisher’s mom, Debbie Reynolds, wanted it that way.

“Debbie always reminded me, ‘When you are talking about me, not everyone knows I am your mom,’ ” Fisher says. “She was my mom, I loved her like my mom, but to the public it’s Debbie.”

Fisher is telling the story of Debbie and also his famous sister, Carrie Fisher, in his new memoir, “My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie” from 5:30-7 p.m. Friday at the Blasco Event Wing of the UNLV Foundation, on Cottage Grove Avenue and Maryland Parkway, next to the school’s Performing Arts Center.

A portion of proceeds from the book’s sale help fund the UNLV Debbie Reynolds Performing Arts Scholarship, established at the UNLV Entertainment Hall of Fame gala honoring the Reynolds family in February.

Fisher has long been the family’s foremost chronicler of anecdotes and history. He began assembling a book under the theme “My Girls” shortly after his mother and sister died on consecutive days in December 2016 (Fisher on Dec. 27, Reynolds on Dec. 28).

The book is a complement to the documentary “Bright Lights,” which Fisher completed before his mother and sister passed away. Fisher was to host a screening of the movie and a book signing tonight at TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Of course, movies played a major role in Fisher’s life from the time he was a little kid. The family found time for movie nights even as Reynolds worked a staggering schedule on the Strip, often performing two shows a night for 30 consecutive nights at the old Desert Inn.

“We had an 8 o’clock show, then a late show at 10 or 11 o’clock, and then we would have movie night,” Fisher recalls. “This was up in one of the old Desert Inn ballrooms. It ran late, but we always found time for these movies.”

Debbie picked the films and ordered popcorn, pop and wine. The movies ran a wide range of genres, leaning heavily toward musicals, film noir and comedies. She played such classics as “Casablanca,” “Key Largo,” “Holiday Inn,” “Mutiny on the Bounty” (the Clark Gable version), “Sergeant York,” and, as Fisher says “anything with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.”

“It was like Turner Classic Movies, but with Debbie in charge,” Fisher says. “It was Debbie’s Midnight Movies.”

But one famous movie star’s films were never played.

“Debbie never played her own movies,” Fisher said. “She just wasn’t interested in watching herself. But she liked the movies that dreams were made of, and we watched them all.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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