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Debbie Reynolds’s Thrilling Morning With The Stork . . .

Debbie Reynolds was just about as impatient a young woman as you could find anywhere on earth as Eddie tucked the blankets around her tired body on the night of February 23.

She sighed out loud. Eddie Fisher, her ever-loving husband, looked apprehensively at her. She managed a smile as his eyes caught hers.

“Don’t you worry and fret now, Eddie, it’s just that this is getting to be the living end. How much longer will I have to go on wondering what this little bundle under my heart is going to look like?”

“Honey, it can’t be much longer,” Eddie told her, hoping what he said was the truth. “It just can’t be!”

Debbie’s baby was two weeks and three days overdue at that. moment, the longest and most harrowing seventeen days she’d ever had to live through. Recalling those endless days, Debbie quite a while afterward said, “I used to feel that way about Christmas—my goodness, would it ever arrive?—but this was worse. The constant, awful strain of it.”

Eddie, sitting in a chair near her bed, dozed away in a fitful nap. And she felt herself slipping into slumber too. And then!

She experienced the first faint warnings of a miracle about to happen!

She sat quickly upright. She was on the point of calling out to Eddie—until she saw his weary head nodding on his chest. No, she told herself, I won’t do it. No point in waking him, hours before she’d have to go to the hospital.

I thought her philosophical attitude was pretty sane when she described just how she felt—“Men are so excitable about childbirth because they are actually so outside of what’s happening. After all, there isn’t a thing in the world they can do but just stand by and pray God that everything will go all right. So all they do is get themselves in a turmoil, which is pretty frustrating.”

Through the long night hours her pains, at first slight, increased gradually. It was about 5 A.M., she recalls, when she began to feel pretty certain that February 24 was to be her second baby’s birthday. She telephoned Dr. Charles Levy, who had delivered her daughter Carrie, and he told her to get ready for a trip to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Burbank.

“Keep in close touch and call me right away if there are any important changes,” the doctor ordered.

Not until then did she wake Eddie up. His reaction was characteristic of the expectant father. He jumped out of bed and yelled, “Let’s go! Just put on a robe and we’ll be over there in nothing flat!”

“Cool it, cool it, honey,” Debbie admonished him, quite the unperturbed young matron—who’d been through all this before. “There isn’t that big a hurry. I’ll have time to dress and eat breakfast.”

But Eddie was in a flutter of excitement. He couldn’t understand how she could be so calm, even though fatherhood wasn’t a new experience to him either.

Remembering Carrie

When little Carrie was ready to make her bow into the world they’d had to drive all the way from Palm Springs to Burbank, a hundred and twenty miles, and it had seemed like five hundred. And the! doctor had been so matter-of-fact about it that Eddie had almost hated him. But—well, do fathers ever learn? Now Eddie! was facing the same ordeal again and he was dead sure the baby would arrive before they could get to the hospital.

Again Dr. Levy was taking it all in stride.

“Be at the hospital around ten o’clock,” he advised calmly.

Debbie was beaming, happy that her anxious waiting was nearly at an end.

“A good thing,” she remarked, “that this didn’t happen while you were doing’ your television show.”

“Pretty good timing, I’d call it,” Eddie grinned. “But it wouldn’t have made any difference; I’d have been with you anyway.”

That’s one point they had talked over together. “You’re not to worry if I have to go to the hospital while you’re on the air,’ Debbie had insisted. “The chauffeur can drive me.”

“Not in a thousand years,” was Eddie’s retort. “Nobody but me will drive my wife to the hospital, and I’ll have a stand-by ready to pinch-hit for me if it should happen that way. I’m going to be right with you, all the time.”

While they were preparing to start for the hospital she kept telling him that Dr. Levy knew perfectly well what he was doing and that he’d take good care of her.

“Oh, I know that, I know that,” Eddie’ said. “But something might go wrong and we can’t take any chances.”

Starting out of the driveway Eddie shoved down hard on the pedal and the speedometer needle climbed like mad.

“Now let’s not get a traffic ticket, and don’t run any lights, and watch out for boulevard stops,’ she warned. 

“Wish I’d remembered to get a motorcycle escort. We could have arranged it.”

“Oh, there’s plenty of time, no hurry. Dr. Levy thinks the baby will arrive about noon. There’s hours.”

“Say, what if we had to stop and let the baby be born right here in the car? Gee!”

“Silly! Nothing like that’s going to happen. Come on, let’s sing and forget it.”

A duet

She began and Eddie did his best to join in, but for once his voice came out a little cracked. Debbie’s tones throbbed with her happiness.

They made good time, with most of the traffic going in the opposite direction. Toward the end Debbie began to be a little excited too, and she stopped singing because her pains were coming with a quickening intensity that told her time was running out for her. It was with a great surge of relief that she walked into St. Joseph’s and glimpsed Dr. Levy’s reassuring smile as he took her arm and led her to the room prepared for her.

She felt forlorn and alone, for this was one road she had to travel by herself—only his love could he send with her.

And how did Eddie spend those hours? Sweating it out until the nurse came to tell him, “It’s a fine big boy!”

Eddie’s grin stretched from here to there.

“Dean said it would be a boy,” he said, remembering happily what his pal Dean Martin had told him: “If you don’t set your heart on a boy too much you’ll get one.” So Eddie, wanting a son, hadn’t let himself get too keyed up about it. A son was what he really wanted deep inside. And now he had his wish.

Dean knows

Dean, the father of seven, was speaking from experience. Eddie was tempted to get right on the phone and tell Dean, “I’ve got a son!” And that’s exactly what he did, but not until after he had followed the nurse and stood mutely happy at Debbie’s bedside. After a little while he found his voice. The hospital nurse told me Eddie’s first words about his son were, “My, what a whopper he is!” And then, “Look at those legs! Long! Say, he ought to be a great basketball player!”

Debbie’s mother arrived then and she and Eddie got on the telephone to call friends and relatives.

After all his good intentions, when Eddie got Dean Martin on the phone he told him, “It’s a girl! No, I mean it’s a boy.” Dean said “You’d better go back and take another look to be sure. And listen, when you’ve gone through this as many times as I have you won’t get all hot and bothered. Cool down, man! 3 Cool down!”

Naming the baby, if a boy, had been pretty well decided in advance by Debbie and Eddie. And so he’s Todd Emanuel, after two of their dearest friends, Mike Todd and Mannie Sachs—both so tragically taken from them. Mannie, a potent influence in Eddie’s early career, died a few months before Mike’s ill-fated plane crash.

How did that thrilling morning end? With a disappointment.

Just as soon as she was rested, Debbie began clamoring for baby daughter Carrie. So when Debbie fell asleep, Eddie drove home to fetch Carrie. That’s when Eddie found out there was a strict rule against allowing young children in a hospital, where there are so many other babies whose health must be guarded. So Carrie had to wait in the car. Her mommy sent her a fluffy doll, delivered for the new baby, so Carrie didn’t mind too much. But Debbie did! Maybe that’s why in just four days Debbie went home, an amazingly brief time of recuperation considering the difficult time she’d had. The hospital people would have preferred another week for her, but she couldn’t wait to show off the baby brother to Carrie.

“There is no problem of jealousy,” Debbie assured me. “Carrie loves the baby so much she wants to be kissing him all the time. When babies are so nearly the same age it isn’t so difficult for the older one to accept the new one. That’s why we planned to have them as close together as possible.”

What the future holds

Although they’ve made up their minds to have more children later on, Debbie and Eddie are going to wait a while before they put in their order for No. 3.

“I want to get back to making pictures now,” she explained. “I’m to star in The Boy Friend, which was scheduled to start in April at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer—the musicians’ strike had forced a delay. Perhaps I shan’t be able to work until late summer, which is all right with me because I’ll have more time to prepare.”

There are two nurses on duty all the time in the Fisher household to keep watch over the babies and to be prepared for any emergency. But Debbie loves to look after them herself. The other day I was talking to her over the phone and little Carrie was crying in another room. Debbie said “Excuse me” and then I could hear her call out, “Just a minute, darling, Mommy is coming as soon as she can!

“We have an intercom system in the house,” she explained to me, “so I can talk to the babies from wherever I happen to be. They’re always reassured when they hear my voice because it means everything’s all right in their little world.”

I went to the baby shower that Lita Baron—Mrs. Rory Calhoun—gave for Debbie a few weeks before little Todd Emanuel arrived. Judging from the wondrous gifts I saw, this youngster will not have to worry about not having a stitch to wear!

“I had a lot of baby things left over that Carrie never used,” Debbie told me. “And you saw the package we carted away from Lita’s house! Most of the gifts were pretty practical, too. Little shirts and things babies wear, and enough blankets and comforters to raise a family of eight or more,” she laughed.

One thing Debbie told me that her fans will be interested to hear is that she doesn’t want to play any more innocent-young-girl roles even though she still looks like a teenager. Her comment was, “I’ve had it with that kind of acting, and now I want more sophisticated parts, something I can get my teeth into.

“Another thing, I don’t want to go on any long out-of-town locations. I had quite a scare when Eddie and I came back from Europe after several weeks away from Carrie and she didn’t know me. I don’t want that to happen again. Eddie wants to stay around home as much as possible, too. With his weekly television show, he won’t have time to accept any night club engagements until midsummer. Then he’ll be going into the Las Vegas Tropicana for a few weeks, but we can all be in Las Vegas and not separated.

“Home life is so wonderful with our two young darlings that neither of us wants to miss a minute of it!”

Young mothers and fathers everywhere will understand exactly what she means. She’s a lucky girl; he’s a lucky boy—and they both know it.



Watch for Debbie in U-I’s THIS HAPPY FEELING.



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