Debbie Reynolds has starred in some of Hollywood’s most iconic films, from “Singin’ in the Rain” to her Oscar-nominated turn in 1964’s “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” but it’s her unflagging philanthropic contributions that will be feted at this year’s seventh annual Governors Awards when she receives the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Award.
Most notably, Reynolds is a founding member and past president of the Thalians, a charitable organization formed by entertainers to raise awareness and provide treatment and support for those suffering from mental health issues. Through Reynolds’ tireless efforts, the Thalians have donated millions of dollars to the Mental Health Center at Cedars-Sinai and to UCLA’s Operation Mend, which provides critically needed medical and psychological services to wounded veterans and their families.
“Debbie has founded and led the Thalians (for) almost 60 years and has been committed to supporting mental and health services,” says Dr. Thomas Strouse, medical director of the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA and vice chair for clinical affairs in the UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. “Thalians beneficence has allowed us to build and integrate mental health services into the original parts of Operation Mend, which was surgery. (Debbie) was central to the transition of the Thalians as they shifted their focus from Cedars to UCLA.”
Melanie Gideon, program director of Operation Mend, calls Reynolds “a leading spokesperson” for the work that the organization continues to do to serve its community.
“We’ve been so focused on the psychological health of our wounded warriors and I know that’s something (Debbie) is really passionate about,” Gideon says. “She’s been really supportive of our initiatives, she is really taking a stand here for a cause that is so sorely needed right now. She’s driven the Thalians to give as much as they can.”