By SANDY COHEN , AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Todd Fisher considers himself the custodian of Debbie Reynolds' and Carrie Fisher's legacies. He says it's a role he's always played, but now it's helping him process the grief of losing his mother and sister.
"There's a huge vacuum in my world without them there," Todd Fisher said Wednesday from Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel, where he's exhibiting some of his mom's movie costumes during the TCM Classic Film Festival. "It makes me feel better to think their legacy isn't going to be scattered to loss somehow or to be forgotten in some way. I will not let that happen."
Appearing at festival screenings and showing off costumes from "Singin' in the Rain" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" is just the beginning of what Fisher has planned. He'd like to see his mother's collection of Hollywood costumes and memorabilia included in the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures that's set to open in 2019, and he's putting together a "tribute museum" of his own inside Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio in Los Angeles.
"It's only out of default because I don't know what else to do with myself," said Fisher, 59. "We are going to build a small tribute museum to Debbie and Carrie. We are going to preserve their little writing rooms and sitting rooms, and then that will be with their personal items... I think people will find interesting. I think it will be interesting for people to see Carrie's writings, and see the process."
Reynolds famously collected thousands of Hollywood costumes and props throughout her career and longed to see them in a museum. Fisher said she was drawn to movie memorabilia because "she believed those were the tangibles. She believed those were the things that we would look at and relate to differently than a film object on the screen."
"At one point we had 3,000 costumes — the largest collection in the world," he said. "When she determined in 2011 that she couldn't go it alone anymore, she had a huge auction. Broke every record in the world. Sold the Marilyn Monroe subway dress for $6.2 million. She paid a grand for that dress."
Fisher said several hundred items remain in the family's collection, including a typewriter from "Citizen Kane" and most of Reynolds' stage and screen costumes.
"I collect all the Debbie costumes," he said. "That's why none of them got sold."
When the film academy museum opens, he hopes to show some pieces there.
Meanwhile, he's working on his tribute space at the dance studio, a comforting task and something he thinks his mom and sister would appreciate.
"It's part of the process for me," Fisher said. "There are a lot of thoughts and floating dreams and moments where I remember things. And this does help you with all of that. I know I'm doing with they would want."