Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift Had an Affair, Debbie Reynolds Claimed
She wrote that the A Place in the Sun co-stars were more than friends.
They were longtime friends and starred in three movies together, but some believe that Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift's relationship went further than that. Their intense friendship has been written about in books and in articles, but it isn't just historians and pop culture experts who have had something to say about the late actors. Debbie Reynolds, who was close to the Cleopatra star, wrote that she believed Taylor and Clift, who was also known to date men, had an intimate, romantic relationship at one time.
Read on to see why Reynolds was convinced of this and for more on Taylor and Clift's years-long friendship.
Reynolds and Taylor were close, despite a betrayal.
Taylor and Reynolds became friends when they were both getting their start in Hollywood as teenagers. Reynolds went on to be the matron of honor in Taylor's 1957 wedding to Mike Todd. Reynolds' husband, Eddie Fisher, was the best man.
But, soon, their relationship changed—drastically. After Todd died in 1958, Taylor and Fisher began an affair. Fisher became Taylor's fourth husband in 1959.
Years later, Taylor and Reynolds patched up their relationship. "We decided, being bright girls, we would get over the problems that existed," Reynolds told NPR in 2013. "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 [Taylor died in 2011], 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."
Reynolds wrote that she saw Taylor and Clift kissing.
In her 2013 book, Unsinkable: A Memoir, Reynolds wrote that Taylor and Clift were "intimate" and that she once saw them kissing.
Reynolds wrote (via Entertainment Weekly) that at a party at Taylor's home in 1956, she watched as Taylor and Clift "laughed and giggled while making out in the water in front of us all." She continued, "Even though Monty had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, it was obvious that he and Elizabeth had been intimate. Elizabeth could seduce any man, gay or straight."
At the time, Taylor and Clift were working on their second movie together, 1957's Raintree County. They also co-starred in A Place in the Sun (1951) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). They were planning to star together in a fourth film, Reflection in a Golden Eye (1967), but Clift died of a heart attack before filming began. He was 45.
When this party took place, Taylor was married to her second husband, Michael Wilding. Clift, who never married, is now believed to have been either gay or bisexual, but he was not out during his lifetime.
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A book claims that Taylor wanted more from Clift.
In the book Elizabeth and Monty: The Untold Story of their Intimate Friendship, author Charles Casillo says that Taylor was very attracted to Clift when they first met. Casillo told People that their dance scene in A Place in the Sun was so sensual that their co-star Shelley Winters "actually thought there was an affair going on." Casillo added, "It's almost like you're seeing them fall in love during that dance."
Casillo said that Taylor and Clift were spotted kissing in the back of limousines. "Monty couldn't bring himself to tell her that he was gay," the writer said. Taylor, Casillo explained, tried to seduce Clift, but it didn't work. "This was intriguing to her because men were interested in her for her physicality," he told People.
Eventually, Casillo said, Clift let Taylor know he was gay and they became good friends. She "even started trying to think of other gay men she could fix him up with," the biographer wrote.
Taylor saved Clift's life after a car accident.
The party that Reynolds mentions in her book is also significant, because it was in leaving that Clift was involved in a serious car crash that had a lasting affect on his appearance. Reynolds shared a graphic description of Taylor finding Clift after the crash in her book.
"Elizabeth stuck her hand in his mouth, felt the back of his throat where some of his teeth had become lodged after being knocked out, and pulled them out to prevent him from choking," she wrote. "He might have died if she hadn't come to his aid."
Similarly, Casillo told People, "Everyone on the scene said that she saved his life," he said. Otherwise "he would have died right there."
She addressed his sexuality years later.
In 2000, Taylor was awarded the GLAAD Vanguard Award for her support of the LGBTQ community and her activism early on in the AIDS epidemic. In her speech, she said she had worked with gay men, including Clift, James Dean, and her good friend Rock Hudson. "I never thought of them of who they slept with, they were just the people I loved," the star said.
Taylor's website features an essay about her friendship with Clift. "There is no denying that the on-screen magic felt between Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift translated into a lifetime of friendship," it reads. "There are innumerable ways to interpret love; for Elizabeth, it looked like an unswerving dedication to those she called friends."