31 Days of Happiness Countdown: honoring the grit and grace of Debbie Reynolds. (Day 28)

Thanks for stopping by for Day 28 of Upworthy's 31 Days of Happiness Countdown! If this is your first visit, here's the gist: Each day between Dec. 1 and Dec. 31, we're sharing stories we hope will bring joy, smiles, and laughter into our lives and yours. It's been a challenging year for a lot of us, so why not end it on a high note with a bit of happiness? Check back tomorrow (or click the links at the bottom) for another installment!

GIF from "Halloweentown."


It's been one year since we lost Debbie Reynolds. The acclaimed star of stage and screen passed away suddenly last winter, just one day after the death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher.

Before her passing, Reynolds left the world with a canon of stupendous performances. But few roles were as charming and carefree as Reynolds' star-turn playing Kathy Selden in the 1952 classic, "Singin' in the Rain."

Reynolds was only 19 when she took on the role, and while she had experience as an actress, "Singin' in the Rain" would be her very first foray into singing and dancing. You read that right: Reynolds had to learn how to sing and dance well enough to keep up with her costars, seasoned performers Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor. No pressure!

O'Connor and Kelly. GIF from "Singin' in the Rain"/MGM.

As an experienced song and dance man, Kelly was angry about the casting, but the studio believed in Reynolds, and gave her a shot. She had three months to learn to dance, and she practiced nonstop, nearly 8 hours a day with multiple teachers. The great Fred Astaire even dropped in for a word of encouragement on one especially difficult day.

Reynolds' practice and effort paid off on the silver screen, when she not only kept up her co-stars, but in many ways, outshone them. In the scene below, Reynolds sings and dances with the ease and grace of a performer with a lifetime of experience under her belt. It's ebullient. It's effortless. And once you know how hard she worked for it, it's so, so satisfying.

Here's to Reynolds, and every woman who laughs in the face of a challenge and comes out on top.

More days of happiness here: DAY 1 / DAY 2 / DAY 3 / DAY 4 / DAY 5/ DAY 6 / DAY 7 / DAY 8 / DAY 9 / DAY 10 / DAY 11 / DAY 12 / DAY 13 / DAY 14 / DAY 15 / DAY 16 / DAY 17/ DAY 18 / DAY 19 / DAY 20 / DAY 21 / DAY 22 / DAY 23 / DAY 24 / DAY 25 / DAY 26 / DAY 27 / [DAY 28] / DAY 29 / DAY 30 / DAY 31
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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
via Richard Desmick / TikTok

Over the weekend, an estimated thousands of people ran 2.23 miles to show their support for Ahmaud Arbery, a former high school football player and avid jogger. Arbery was shot and killed in February near Brunswick, Georgia after being pursued in a truck by a former policeman and his son who claimed he resembled someone responsible for break-ins in the neighborhood.

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File:TIFF 2019 kristen stewart (48701274962).jpg - Wikimedia Commons

Of the 25 actors that have been nominated for an Oscar for playing an LGBTQ character, a grand total of zero of them have been openly queer. The debate on whether or not only gay actors can play gay roles has many sides and nuances. After Darren Criss, who is straight, won an Emmy for playing Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Criss vowed he would never play another gay man because he didn't want to be "another straight boy taking a gay man's role." Actor Ben Whishaw, who is gay, feels otherwise. "I really believe that actors can embody and portray anything, and we shouldn't be defined only by what we are," Whishaw said. Recently, Kristen Stewart also weighed in on some of the complexities around the issue.

Variety recently asked Stewart about the importance of gay actors playing gay characters. Stewart acknowledged the complexity of the issue. "I would never want to tell a story that really should be told by somebody who's lived that experience. Having said that, it's a slippery slope conversation because that means I could never play another straight character if I'm going to hold everyone to the letter of this particular law. I think it's such a gray area," Stewart told Variety.

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