Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor were high school best friends. But their friendship was fraught with scandal when Reynolds’ first husband, Eddie Fisher, left her for Taylor in 1958. Their children, Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher, were babies. Years after the “tabloid feeding frenzy” that changed Reynolds, Fisher, and Taylor’s lives forever, the former friends made up. And the story of Reynolds and Taylor’s reconciliation is so fitting of their glamorous lives in the spotlight.
Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor met in high school
Reynolds and Taylor were two of Hollywood’s brightest stars in the 1950s. They met when they were teenagers, having both been hired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). They attended school on the MGM lot while also appearing in films. Taylor was already famous when they met, and Reynolds loved the fact that she was her classmate.
They stayed close friends. So much so, in fact, that when Taylor married film producer Mike Todd on Feb. 2, 1957, the already married Reynolds and Fisher were their matron of honor and best man. Fisher and Reynolds also named their son, Todd, after Mike. Todd was born on Feb. 24, 1958, and Mike died in a plane crash one month later on March 22.
Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor both remarried multiple times
Reynolds sent Fisher to comfort Taylor following Mike’s unexpected death, and that’s what started their infamous affair and what ended Reynolds and Taylor’s friendship. Fisher and Taylor’s reputations suffered greatly for their relationship, but nonetheless they were married from 1959 to 1964. (Reynolds and Fisher were married from 1955 to 1959.)
Although Taylor and Fisher were basically the Brangelina of the 1950s, that affair wasn’t even Taylor’s most famous tryst. Her most infamous relationship started when she co-starred with Richard Burton in Cleopatra. Taylor cheated on Fisher with Burton during the lengthy time it took to film the wildly expensive movie. Cleopatra eventually came out in 1963, and Taylor and Fisher were divorced by 1964.
Later that year, Taylor married Burton for the first time. This ended up being Taylor’s longest marriage, lasting from 1964 to 1974. They divorced in 1974, got remarried in 1975, and then divorced for good later that year.
Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor reconciled when Taylor was married to Richard Burton
For her part, Reynolds married Harry Karl in 1960. It was during this time when Taylor was with Burton and Reynolds was with Karl that the two put their past behind them.
In 1966, Reynolds and Taylor crossed paths on the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the Queen Elizabeth. Reynolds said in later years that one fateful night on the ship, they secretly planned to have dinner and make up.
“We got on the same boat to go to Europe—the Queen Elizabeth,” Reynolds recalled, according to Vogue. “I sent a note to her and she sent a note to me in passing, and then we had dinner together. She was married to Richard Burton by then. I had been remarried at that point. And we just said, ‘Let’s call it a day.’ And we got smashed. And we had a great evening, and stayed friends since then.”
Yup, their solution to mending old wounds was to say “to hell with Eddie Fisher” and get drunk on a cruise ship. Here’s to the ladies who lunch.