New Elizabeth Taylor Book Shares Harrowing Details of Her Abusive Marriages—Including to Eddie Fisher
The first authorized autobiography of the star reveals new information about her relationships.
Elizabeth Taylor came to fame nearly 80 years ago, and went on to become known for her movies, her marriages, her friendships with other celebrities, her diamonds, her perfume, her philanthropy… the list goes on. But, according to the new biography Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit & Glamour of an Icon by Kate Andersen Brower, there is still more to learn about the iconic star.
People reports that Brower's research for the book—which is the first authorized biography of Taylor—included reading over 7,000 of the Hollywood legend's personal letters and interviewing 250 people who knew her. The author revealed to the magazine that the book explores how Taylor never looked at herself as a victim, even though she suffered abuse from those close to her. Read on to find out more about the book and the highs and lows of Taylor's relationships.
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Taylor was famously married eight times.
During her life, Taylor had eight marriages to seven men: hotel heir Conrad Hilton Jr., actor Michael Wilding, producer Mike Todd, singer/actor Eddie Fisher, actor Richard Burton (twice), politician John Warner, and construction worker Larry Fortensky.
Taylor said that Todd—who died in a plane crash a year into their marriage—and Burton were the loves of her life. Asked in a 2002 interview with The New York Times whether she thought the other men cared that she felt that way, Taylor responded, "Oh, gee, I don't think so. They have always known. I mean, a sweet, gentle man like John Warner, oh, we talked about it. And he knows he wasn't the love of my life. And I know I wasn't the love of his life. But we loved each other."
The book claims Fisher pulled a gun on her.
Taylor and Fisher got married after Fisher left his wife, Debbie Reynolds, for her following Todd's death; the group had all been close friends. Brower's book includes a story in which Fisher held a gun to Taylor's head during their marriage and said, "Don't worry, you're too beautiful to kill."
Brower explained of Taylor and Fisher, "She said being married to him was a slow suicide. So she needed to leave. So she got out of these situations that she was in that were abusive. But I think that the thing about her too, is that she always thought that she was her best when she was married. But if you just look at it, the period of time when she was the most impactful and was when she was single."
Fisher and Taylor were married from 1959 to 1964. He died in 2010, one year before Taylor.
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She endured abuse in other relationships.
Brower also talked about Taylor's father being physically abusive towards her.
"She said her entire life was a fight," Brower told People. "The resilience is the refusing to be a victim. Her father did beat her up. And he beat her because he felt intimidated that his 12-year-old was making more money [as a child star] than he was. And they had a reconciliation when she was in her 20s. But I mean, the fact that she wouldn't let herself be victimized even though she was on paper, a victim."
Taylor herself claimed that Hilton harmed her during their marriage. She wrote in her 1988 book Elizabeth Takes Off (via People) that Hilton "became sullen, angry and abusive, physically and mentally."
Taylor and Burton's fights, which they were both open about, are legendary. As to whether they ever turned physical, when Burton's diaries were published in 2012 (via ABC News), one entry claimed that she "smash[ed] [him] around the head with her ringed fingers."
"If any man had done that, I'd have killed him," the actor wrote.
She didn't remember her marriage to Fisher fondly.
In her New York Times interview, Taylor was asked if here were any marriages she would "expunge from the record."
"Eddie, Eddie, Eddie," she responded. "And I did!"
Taylor left Fisher for Burton when they developed a relationship working on the 1963 movie Cleopatra. According to the book Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century (via the Irish Mirror), it was when Fisher found out about the affair that he pulled the gun on his wife.