Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor were both famous for marrying a lot of people, but one of their most famous marriages was to each other. The singer and the actress got married in 1959, after Fisher left actress Debbie Reynolds and their children, Stars Wars icon Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher, who were just toddlers at the time.
Reynolds and Fisher’s divorce was heavily publicized in the press, given that they were one of Hollywood’s favorite couples when they were together and Taylor and her third husband, Mike Todd, were their close friends. Reynolds and Taylor were friends before they ever married Fisher, however, and years after the dust settled on the chaos that was their famous love triangle, the two actresses mended their friendship.
Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor became close friends while working for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Reynolds and Taylor became friends in high school, which for them meant attending classes on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) lot, given that they were employees of the film studio. Taylor was already a star in her own right, and Reynolds didn’t mince words when it came to describing why they got along so well.https://87182a1279578bf2fd55e7c39ba60373.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
“I went to MGM when I was around 17, and Liz was there, too, but she was already a star,” Reynolds told People in 2015, just one year before her death. “We went to school together on the lot, when she was in between films. I was just a beginner, and she and I were not in any manner alike, but we got along very well because I was in awe of going to school with Elizabeth Taylor. And if anyone said they weren’t, then they were lying. Or blind.”
And it wasn’t just a high school friendship they had. When Taylor married Mike Todd in 1957 (her third marriage), Reynolds was her Matron of Honor and Fisher (whom Reynolds married three years prior) was the Best Man. The Singin’ In The Rain star and the “Wish You Were Here” singer even named their son after Mike Todd, who died in a plane crash in 1958.
Debbie Reynolds was ‘never bitter’ about Elizabeth Taylor marrying Eddie Fisher
Reynolds sent her husband to comfort Taylor, and that’s when the affair that ended her marriage began. Even though the love triangle was, as Todd Fisher described in a 2018 memoir, an “insane tabloid feeding frenzy,” Reynolds and Taylor repaired their relationship in later years.
The Halloweentown alum went so far as to say that repairing that friendship was more important than her marriage to Fisher ever was. For starters, the star made it clear she never blamed Taylor for Fisher’s abandonment of their family.
According to Biography, the Unsinkable Molly Brown actress told People in 1983 that despite the affair temporarily ending their friendship, she “never felt bitter about Elizabeth.”
“A man doesn’t leave a woman for another woman unless he wants to go,” she continued. “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.”
Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor reconciled in 1966
Taylor and Fisher’s marriage didn’t last long, although it was longer than his marriage with Reynolds. The two stars were married from 1959 to 1964, their divorce being prompted by Taylor’s infamous affair with co-star Richard Burton while filming Cleopatra in 1963.
The former high school pals still weren’t friends at this point, but that would change three years later, when they were coincidentally both on the same cruise ship and decided to effectively say “f*ck Eddie Fisher,” got drunk, and made up. Reynolds was married to businessman Harry Karl at the time, and Taylor had wed Burton in 1964.
“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.”
The actresses maintained their friendship for the remainder of their lives. According to Biography, Reynolds once explained why it was important to let go of her past with Taylor
“You have to look at what life is all about, and is it worth it? And, is he worth it?” she said. “The friendship was perhaps worth more.”
Indeed, their friendship was worth more to both of them in the end. In 2000, they had co-starred in a TV movie written by Carrie called These Old Broads, in which they played two women who reconciled a friendship after fighting over a man named, wait for it, Freddy (it also starred Shirley McClain and Joan Collins). According to Todd’s My Girls: A Lifetime With Carrie and Debbie, Taylor tearfully apologized to Reynolds for the affair again while filming the movie.
“I’m sorry for what I did to you with Eddie,” Taylor is quoted as saying to her friend.
“It caught Mom off guard that Elizabeth was still so emotional about it,” Todd wrote in the memoir.
In 2001, Taylor offered Reynolds refuge at her hotel in Manhattan during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. When Taylor died in 2011, she left some of her precious jewelry to Reynolds in her will. Reynolds died of a stroke in December 2016, the day after Carrie died of sudden cardiac arrest.