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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