ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10) – As tinsel town remembers Carrie Fisher, many in Roanoke remember when her mother was the star in the Star City. Debbie Reynolds lived in Roanoke after she married local developer Richard Hamlett in 1984.
“A little girl asked me the other day about Princess Leia and asked ‘Did you know her?’,” said Richard Hamlett. “I said she was my step-daughter and she said ‘What?'”
Five years after his marriage to Hollywood golden girl Reynolds, Hamlett appeared on the silver screen with his then step-daughter Fisher.
“She called me up one day and said ‘Would you give me away in a movie?’,” said Hamlett.
That movie was When Harry Met Sally. It was the wedding scene.
“To me, it was just like my own daughter,” said Hamlett.
“I met Carrie in 1981 and she signed a book to me,” said Reynolds’ friend Jerry Franks. “To Jerry Franks. My mother’s right hand and my left foot.”
Former casting director Jerry Franks met his friend’s daughter after her success in Star Wars.
“That girl was the funniest,’ said Franks. “She said, ‘You know Jerry you can always remember me by squeezing my head off a bottle of Princess Leia shampoo.”
Franks will remember that sense of humor. Though he believes most will recall Fisher’s acting ability, he says her mother felt her best talent was writing. Fisher authored the book she signed for him.
“Debbie and Carrie had been getting along so much better than at one point in their life,” said Reynolds’ friend Bootie Bell Chewning.
Chewning met Reynolds when the star lived in Roanoke. Chewning remembers her friend telling people about Fisher.
“She’d say for the younger set I’m Princess Leia’s mother,” said Chewning. “That was always her thing, being Carrie’s mama.”
Though there was no Hollywood ending for Reynolds and her ex-Hamlett and they no longer speak, Hamlett knows Reynolds is devastated by the loss of her daughter.
“She’s hurt. She’s hurting so bad,” said Hamlett. “Because Carrie was really her love.”