Debbie Reynolds Was "Humiliated" by Eddie Fisher's Affair With Elizabeth Taylor, Son Says
But, Todd Fisher says that his mother was "classy" in the face of the scandal.
One of the most scandalous love triangles in Hollywood history came to light in 1958 when Eddie Fisher left Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor. Not only did the immense fame of everyone involved make this drama the subject of public fascination, but there's also the fact that Reynolds, Eddie, Taylor, and Taylor's third husband, producer Mike Todd, were all friends. Eddie and Reynolds were even the best man and matron of honor in Taylor and Mike's 1957 wedding.
In a recent interview, Eddie and Reynolds' son, Todd Fisher, opened up about the affair and explained how his mother weathered the scandal, despite being "humiliated" by his father's actions. Read on to find out more.
Eddie bonded with Taylor after Mike died.
The two couples were close friends, but that all changed after Mike (after whom Todd Fisher is named) died in a plane crash in 1958 only a year after he and Taylor got married. Reynolds and Eddie both comforted Taylor after Mike's death… but especially Eddie.
Referring to his late sister Carrie Fisher, Todd told Fox News earlier this month, "As Carrie likes to say, my father rushed to Liz's side, gradually moving his way around to the front."
Reynolds and Eddie divorced in 1959, and Eddie and Taylor got married that same year.
Todd says that his mother was humiliated.
In the interview, Todd explained that Reynolds remained "classy," despite the way her marriage ended.
"My father left my mother for Elizabeth Taylor," the 65-year-old said. "A lot of people were mad about that… A lot of people were like, 'So your dad left the good girl for the bad girl.'… Liz made no bones about being the bad girl. She came a long way from National Velvet … So when my mother was put in the position of being humiliated by my father… my mother was a classy person."
Todd explained that Reynolds "never talked [their] father down" to him and his sister. "She could have given us an earful about Eddie leaving her for Liz," he said. "And a lot of it, of course, was in our faces too as children growing up. And this scandal never really went away. To this day, it's still talked about."
Todd also looked back on the press asking Reynolds about her husband leaving her as she was disembarking from an airplane. "She hadn't even heard yet," Todd said. "You could see she's a little shocked, but she just handles it with such grace. That just goes to the quality of her character."
Reynolds joked about the affair years later.
Reynolds, who passed away in 2016, reflected on the end of her marriage in a 2013 interview with NPR.
"Eddie, you know, left with Elizabeth many, many years ago. We were married about five years—I think it was—when he decided to take a hike, and with Elizabeth," the Singin' in the Rain star said. "And we were good friends 'cause we were at MGM Studios and school together. And we were friends."
She continued, "Mike Todd, unfortunately, had a terrible plane crash. And then when Mike died, she left with Eddie. So my husband did console her—very well, I'm sure."
Eddie and Taylor's marriage was short-lived.
Eddie and Taylor remained legally married for five years, but their marriage took a major turn in 1961 when Taylor began filming Cleopatra with Richard Burton. Taylor and Burton began an affair of their own—he was also married at the time, to Sybil Williams. The affair was so frowned upon that it was condemned by the Vatican. Eddie and Taylor divorced in 1964, and she soon married Burton. (They famously divorced after 10 years before briefly marrying for a second time.)
"I warned Eddie that she'd kick him out in a year and a half," Reynolds told NPR. "And that's exactly what happened, which gave me at least a little comfort."
Taylor and Reynolds mended their friendship.
Unsurprisingly, Taylor and Reynolds did not remain close while Taylor and Eddie were together. But the two actors made up years later. Their reunion included co-starring in the 2001 film These Old Broads, which was co-written by Reynolds' daughter, Carrie. In the movie, they playfully reference their real-life history. In one scene, they discuss Taylor's character having an affair with a man who's in a relationship with Reynolds' character.
"We decided, being bright girls, we would get over the problems that existed," Reynolds explained to NPR. "And we sent each other a note saying let's move on with our lives, and let's get onto the happy side. And then to the end of her life, we were together. I mean, together doesn't mean everyday lunch. You know, I'm not a lunch girl, and neither is Elizabeth. But as far as being friends, we were. Yes."
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