ROANOKE COUNTY (WSLS 10 ) – As Hollywood remembers actresses Debbie Reynolds and her daughter Carrie Fisher, Roanoke is not forgetting the time Reynolds spent here.
Local real estate developer Richard Hamlett became Reynolds’ third husband in 1984.
“First time I was with her I told her I wanted to marry her,” said Richard Hamlett.
But on that night in 1983 Hamlett settled for Debbie Reynolds scribbling her phone number on a matchbook. Hamlett had just watched Reynolds headline a show in Reno. She rejected his friend’s invitation to dance.
“I said well I’ll get turned down the same as he did,” said Hamlett. “I go over and asked Debbie to dance and she jumped up and said OK. So we go out on the dance floor.”
Six months later they were standing at the altar, after Reynolds made up her mind.
“She called me one night and said the answer’s yes,” said Hamlett. “She said we’re going to get married.”
Their 12-year marriage ended in a bitter divorce, but before that the couple briefly lived together in Roanoke County. Roanoke’s mayor gave her a key to the city. Hamlett made sure to take her to Texas Tavern.
Hamlett called to offer his condolences over Fisher Wednesday. Just hours after leaving a message with Reynolds’ office, he received word his ex-wife was rushed to the hospital.
“I thought well damn, she’s not going to make it,” said Hamlett. “I said she’s got a broken heart.”
Reynolds had accused Hamlett of breaking it years before. They hadn’t spoken since she bought out his stake in the Las Vegas hotel they opened during their marriage. Thursday Hamlett had nothing but kind words to describe Reynolds.
“I’d been in love with Debbie ever since I was in high school,” said Hamlett.