Debbie Reynolds wasn’t convinced Elizabeth Taylor loved Eddie Fisher. The late Singin’ In The Rain star was married to the “Lady in Spain” singer from 1955 to 1959. He left her for Taylor, creating one of the most talked about celebrity scandals of the 1950s.
The public affair and Fisher’s abandonment of Reynolds and their two young children, Stars Wars icon Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher (who’s named after Taylor’s third husband), “ruined” fisher’s career, according to his son. But the marriage didn’t last, and Reynolds had a theory as to why.
Eddie Fisher was Elizabeth Taylor’s fourth husband
Carrie and Todd were babies when their father left Reynolds for Taylor in 1958, rushing to her side, per Reynolds’ suggestion, following the sudden death of Taylor’s third husband, Mike Todd. Carrie joked in her HBO special Wishful Drinking that her father “rushed to [Taylor’s] side, gradually moving to her front.”
Taylor and Reynolds had been friends since high school and the two married couples were very close, so it seemed only natural for Reynolds or Fisher to go to Taylor in her time of need. Reynolds clearly never thought that would be the beginning of the end of her marriage, though.
The following months were filled with constant tabloid gossip about the affair. Taylor and Fisher were criticized for their relationship, although the latter was judged more because of the young children he left behind. Fisher and the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof star eventually married in 1959, the same day his divorce from Reynolds was granted. Ouch.
Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher were married from 1959 to 1964
Taylor’s relationship with Fisher started with the tragedy of Mike Todd’s unexpected death. He died in a plane crash just one year and one month after they got married, and Fisher became her shoulder to cry on. This is what convinced Reynolds that Taylor never truly loved her ex.
“I never felt bitter about Elizabeth,” the star told People in 1983, according to Biography. “A man doesn’t leave a woman for another woman unless he wants to go. You know, when Mike Todd died, I sent Eddie to help Elizabeth. I don’t think she ever really loved Eddie. He was an interim interest during her mourning period.”
She might have been right. Taylor famously repeated history by having an affair with Richard Burton while filming Cleopatra in 1963. She and Fisher divorced in 1964, and then she married Burton the same year. According to Biography, Taylor and Burton did try to ignore their feelings for each other, given that they were both married.
“We did try and resist,” Taylor said. “My marriage with Eddie was over, but we didn’t want to do anything to hurt [Sybil Williams].”
Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor eventually reconciled
Of course, they eventually divorced both of their spouses. And each other! Taylor and Burton had a famously dramatic relationship, resulting in them getting married and divorced twice. Their first marriage lasted from 1964 to 1974, and then they were married again from 1975 to 1976. Burton died in 1984, and Taylor was reportedly still madly in love with him.
As for Fisher, he remarried three more times before he died in 2010. Taylor married seven men in her lifetime, and Reynolds married a total of three. The one constant throughout Reynolds in Taylor’s lives was their friendship. Yes, the old high school pals, after years of incessant tabloid gossip and romantic strife caused by Taylor, reconciled in 1966 and remained friends until Taylor died in 2011.
“You have to look at what life is all about, and is it worth it? And, is he worth it?” Reynolds said of mending their relationship, according to Biography. “The friendship was perhaps worth more.”