Debbie Reynolds had no dance training before being cast, at 19, in “Singin’ in the Rain.” But she did have something even more valuable on a Hollywood lot: purity.
Reynolds didn’t strive to be complicated. She knew who she was — an earnest, happy, hard worker. So she bore a physically punishing rehearsal schedule, presided over by the uncompromising tap maestro Gene Kelly, and through it all she never lost the shining sense of joy that made her an iconic dancer in Hollywood’s golden age of musicals.
There’s no magic in how Reynolds outshone her “Singin’ in the Rain” co-stars, Kelly and Donald O’Connor, in the blistering tap dance to the song “Good Morning.” Kelly drilled her day after day until her feet bled, and even the great Fred Astaire, who happened to visit the set, pitched in to help her...."