The Headline: Elizabeth Taylor Steals Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds
Elizabeth Taylor didn’t spend long mourning the death of third husband Mike Todd, and she wasted no time changing her image from sympathetic widow to Hollywood homewrecker. “Mike’s dead, and I’m alive,” she said in a memorable 1958 interview. “What do you expect me to do, sleep alone?” Her new sleeping partner was crooner Eddie Fisher. The problem? Fisher had been Todd’s best friend and was still Debbie Reynolds’ husband (and the father of her children, two-year-old Carrie and six-month-old Todd, who’d been named after Mike).
In truth, the Fisher-Reynolds pairing was not a particularly happy one. (“I could understand why he wanted her,” Reynolds said later. “I couldn’t understand why she wanted him.”) That didn’t matter when Reynolds, America’s sweetheart, wailed that Liz had stolen her husband and wrecked an “ideal” marriage. Fisher obtained a quickie Nevada divorce in 1959 and married Taylor.
The Last Word: Four years later, Liz met Richard Burton, and Eddie was toast. But his name lingered on as a synonym for a bad choice of mates for a widow. Said no less than Jacqueline Kennedy: “The public will never turn against me. Unless, of course, I marry Eddie Fisher.”