A Complicated Triangle Of Stars
Before Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie. Before Ryan Phillippe left Reese Witherspoon for Abbi Cornish. There was the story of Eddie Fisher leaving Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor.
This triangle is not as clean-cut as it appeared to be at the time. Elizabeth was not necessarily the vixen that she was made out to be. Eddie Fisher may not have been the cad that people presumed he was.
Friends Til The Crash
Elizabeth met Eddie and Debbie from second husband Mike Todd, who also happened to be Eddie’s best friend. Many people said that Elizabeth was the most content when she was with Mike.
On March 22, 1958, Elizabeth’s life would be altered forever and surprisingly would be the beginning of the twisted, tortured triangle. That was the day when Mike’s plane, The Lucky Liz, would crash.
Before he took off, he kissed her several times, not wanting to let her go. She told author J. Randy Taraborelli that she recalls him saying, “I’m too happy, and I’m afraid that something’s going to happen because I’m too happy.”
Elizabeth was very ill that night and as her temperature rose, so did her gut feeling that something wasn’t right. Mike was supposed to call her at 6 in the morning when he landed in Albuquerque, but that call never came. The plane had crashed and burned everyone in it.
The only item recovered from the wreck was Mike’s wedding ring.
Grief Be A Lady Tonight
Elizabeth was so grief-stricken she almost didn’t make it to the private funeral in Chicago for her beloved. She got the courage from Eddie Fisher. Eddie and Mike were so close that Eddie understood the impact Mike’s death was having on Elizabeth. Reynolds offered to stay with Elizabeth’s kids when she tried to use them as an excuse not to attend the funeral. During the flight from LA to Chicago, Elizabeth clung to Eddie, using support, literally and figuratively.
Despite being the “perfect” couple, problems plagued Eddie and Debbie’s marriage from the beginning. Their daughter, Carrie, was born the first year, so they were trying to keep the marriage going, and they did so with inspiration from Elizabeth and Mike. However, with Mike’s death, a bond began to form between Elizabeth and Eddie.
A few months after the tragedy that brought them closer, both Eddie and Elizabeth began to wonder if they could be a couple. In her thinking, she wanted to replace Mike with his best friend, Eddie.
Debbie weighed in on the triangle many years after it happened;
“In the old days, if Elizabeth saw a man she wanted, she got him, no matter who she stepped over; she laughs a lot about why in the world she wanted Eddie. It was just because Mike Todd had died, and Eddie was his best friend. She thought she should be with him so they could talk about Mike Todd all the time.”
Feuding With The Bestie
Debbie and Eddie were doomed in her thinking anyway, So Elizabeth decided to go full force ahead. Debbie said about her friend, “She’s in show business and didn’t get to the top of the profession by being weak-kneed. She must have some inherent strength.”
She also concedes now, “We did whatever the hell we wanted to do and then waited for the consequences.” And the consequences would not be far behind. The press and fans who had once been very sympathetic to the newly widowed Elizabeth began to call her a “hussy” and “homewrecker.”
Despite the press and some fans had called for a boycott of her movies, Elizabeth’s career didn’t suffer. In fact, her loyal fans came out in droves to help her films make money and keep her a viable Hollywood “property.”
A movie offer would ultimately once again change the course of Hollywood history. She would sign on to play the title character in Cleopatra, where she would meet Richard Burton. That relationship is fodder for another story, though.
Eddie asked for spousal support from Elizabeth at the end of their marriage, which ticked her off. Since his divorces from both women, he has not spoken with either.
After feuding for years, Debbie and Elizabeth made up. They made a film together in 2001, These Old Broads, and were friends until Elizabeth died in 2011.
Debbie died five years later.