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The Love Triangle of Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher & Elizabeth Taylor

The equation between Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher, and Elizabeth Taylor was something right out of a movie. A happily married couple with two beautiful kids is getting along splendidly until the husband leaves the wife for none other than her best friend. Yes, that’s exactly how it was, or maybe it was even worse if you consider just how close the two friends were.

On the surface, it seems as though American singer and actor Eddie Fisher was the crucial point of this love triangle but as the whole story unfolds, you realize the friendship between Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor is the most integral part. In this case, friendship – and not love – conquered all.

Taylor and Reynolds were long-time friends. Reynolds met Taylor when she was 17, and even though the two actors were at different places in their careers – Taylor already a star while Reynolds was a beginner – they struck up a friendship that would last a lifetime. In 1955, Reynolds and Fisher tied the knot, and Taylor and her then-boyfriend Mike Todd were dear friends to the couple. It was all very dreamy as the media soaked up the deets of the four of them living the good life, and no one could have imagined what came next. After a series of unforeseen events, Fisher dumped Reynolds for Taylor, and it was all downhill for the singer thereafter – personally and professionally.

In the early 50s, Fisher was a teen idol thanks to his smashing looks and melodious voice and Reynolds was a movie star fresh from the success of Two Weeks with Love and Singin’ in the Rain. Although Fisher isn’t as famous today as some of the other musical legends of the time, he delivered some smashing hits. Seventeen of his songs had made it to the top ten, including Thinking of You, Lady of Spain, and Wish You Were Here.

The romance between the two A-list celebrities began when Fisher spotted Reynolds performing for troops during the Korean War, and he fell head over heels for her. In 1955, the happy couple got married, and the next year, they welcomed their daughter Carrie, who would go on to play the iconic role of Princess Leia in the Star Wars franchise.

All this while, Reynolds was good friends with Taylor, whom she knew from back when she was 17. The two went to school together at MGM’s backlot. Back then, Taylor was already a star while Reynolds was just a beginner, and yet they got along famously. Reynolds once told People Magazine she was in awe of going to school with Taylor.

The initial years of marriage were fairly rosy for the couple. Both Fisher and Reynolds were good friends with Taylor and her then-boyfriend Mike Todd. The four of them were like a postcard version of the perfect Hollywood Life and they were soaking up media attention like never before. The lot of them were so close that when Taylor and Todd tied the knot in 1957, Fisher was the best man and Reynolds was the matron of honour.

Taylor and Todd’s married life was filled with joy. Todd seemed to love the media attention, the scale of which was relatively new for him. In June 1957, he threw a grand birthday party at Madison Square Garden that had a whopping 18,000 guests and was even broadcast live – talk about living larger than life! The two couples remained thick as thieves, so much so that Fisher and Reynolds named their son Todd after their friend.

Mike Todd died in a plane crash in New Mexico shortly after in March 1958, which was when everything started going downhill. Naturally, Taylor was overcome with grief, and Fisher flew to be by her side to comfort her. In UNSINKABLE: A MEMOIR, Reynolds said he agreed to take care of baby Todd and Taylor’s two children at her home. The situation does seem odd, since who would be alright with their husband living with another woman. Only a month later, the equation changed. Fisher separated from Reynolds to be with Taylor.

The change didn’t blindside Reynolds as she claims her marriage was already in trouble much before he went to stay with Taylor. She realized something was up between Fisher and Taylor only a fortnight after Todd’s death. Taylor had to go to New York for work, and Fisher was not supposed to be with her. It was then that Reynolds tried calling Fisher but she couldn’t get through. When she phoned Taylor, Fisher answered the phone, and she could hear Taylor in the background.

One would imagine Fisher would regret the way he ended things with Reynolds, and spare her further heartache after he humiliated her by dumping her for her best friend, but that was not the case. Years later, Fisher penned harsh words about Reynolds in not one but two autobiographies. Reynolds claimed she hadn’t read either since she didn’t want to dislike him, considering they had two kids together. Continue watching to know what he said and how Reynolds reacted to the whole episode.

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Two of Hollywood’s most loved couples had broken and they were now fodder for the tabloids. Fans were angry Taylor had come between the happy Fisher-Reynolds duo, and she was labelled a home-wrecking slut. It was even worse for Fisher, who bore the brunt of the scandal that was quickly spiralling out of control. The negative publicity took a toll on his career as fans declared him a cheater and an opportunist. The only one safe was Reynolds, who had public sympathy as the unsuspecting wife who would now have to raise her kids alone.

The scandal made Reynolds and Taylor quite the topic, and they were now demanding fatter paychecks, but it had a very different effect on Fisher’s career. NBC cancelled his TV series in 1959 because of the negative publicity, and several other contracts were cancelled for morality clauses. Suddenly, Fisher went from being a star to touring nightclubs. The scandal singlehandedly destroyed his career.

What’s interesting is Reynolds never manipulated the situation to be so. For the most part, she remained quiet even as Taylor and Fisher spoke. She divorced Fisher a year after they separated, and soon, Fisher married Taylor. In an interview with People Magazine in 1983, Reynolds said she never harboured ill feelings toward Taylor, because no man would leave one woman from another unless he wanted to go. She even went on to add that she believed Fisher was just an interim love interest in Taylor’s mourning, and she never truly loved him.

Taylor and Fisher divorced in 1964, after her affair with co-star Richard Burton on Cleopatra. At this time, Reynolds was married to Harry Karl, a millionaire businessman. Taylor and Reynolds were still cold to one another even though Fisher was no longer in the picture, which was understandable since Taylor had grossly betrayed Reynolds.

It seemed like the two were not going to reconcile, which may well have been the case had they not met on the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, Queen Taylor, in 1966. The two friends made amends and they were seen dining together with Burton and Karl. Reynolds divorced Karl after 13 years of marriage, and she was in a bad place financially because of Karl’s gambling and poor investment decisions.

Taylor and Reynolds were once again close friends in time. Taylor even offered Reynolds refuge in her hotel in Ney York City following the terrorist attacks in 2001. The two actors were also seen alongside Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins in the TV comedy Made for Broads, which Carrie Fisher had written for her mom. In the movie, Taylor and Reynolds’ characters share an old flame — a character by the name of Freddy. One day, before the shoot began, Taylor told Reynolds she was sorry for what did with Fisher. Todd Fisher said Reynolds was taken aback by how emotional Taylor was.

In 1981, Eddie Fisher published his autobiography Fisher: My Life, My Loves, in which he said his marriage with Reynolds was doomed much before Taylor came into the picture. He also portrayed her as tight-fisted and calculating. When asked to comment on it, Reynolds said she hadn’t read it. She told People Magazine she had �no venom about him,’ and she didn’t want to read it because she was trying not to dislike him for the sake of her children.

Fisher published another autobiography titled Been There, Done That in 1999. Most of the content was recycled from the earlier autobiography, but it was packaged in an adult version with sexual details. He was also much harsher toward Reynolds this time, calling her self-centred, insecure, and phony. Fisher and Reynolds’ daughter Carrie said she was �having her DNA fumigated’ after reading the book.

Eddie Fisher married thrice after separating from Elizabeth Taylor. He has two children Joely Fisher and Tricia Leigh Fisher with Connie Stevens, who was his fourth wife. Fisher died on September 22, 2010, of complications from the hip surgery he underwent after he fell and broke his hip.

As for Reynolds and Taylor, they remained the best of friends for the rest of their lives according to Todd Fisher. Taylor died in 2011, and she left Reynolds beautiful sapphire earrings with a matching necklace and bracelet in her will. Carrie Fisher died on December 27, 2016, four days after she was rushed to the hospital after she suffered a medical emergency on a transatlantic flight. Debbie Reynolds died a day after her daughter Carrie after suffering from a major stroke. Her son Todd Fisher said that in her last moments, Reynolds stated she wanted to be with Carrie.

Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, and Elizabeth Taylor were all extremely talented individuals, but their romantic relationships were set to fail. Eddie’s relationships with both Reynolds and Taylor turned out to be catastrophic failures that even took down his career in the aftermath. Considering Taylor and Reynolds made amends and stayed friends for the rest of their lives, it seems Fisher got the short end of the stick.

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