Sep 24, 2010 9:38 PM by Alison Haynes
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Long before the era of Brangelina, TMZ and
around-the-clock celebrity obsession, Eddie Fisher had a leading
role in arguably the most explosive sex scandal of Hollywood's
He was a music superstar and household name to millions of
teenage girls who adored his crooning long songs. He was married to
Debbie Reynolds - a megawatt movie star in her own right and the
star of "Singin' in the Rain." They had a daughter Carrie who
would one day go on to fame of her own.
Then Fisher left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor, and what
resulted was a scandal that left no doubt about America's love of a
good-old-fashioned Hollywood romance story. The affair became a
national obsession - and an early forerunner of the scandals that
are now so common in the current celebrity-crazed world.
Fisher died Wednesday night at the age of 82 of complications
from hip surgery, and he was remembered as much for his musical
triumphs as his romances with Reynolds and Taylor.
Fisher sold millions of records in the early 1950s with 32 hit
songs including "Any Time," "Oh, My Pa-pa," "Wish You Were
Here," "Lady of Spain" and "Count Your Blessings." His
romantic messages resonated with young girls in the pre-Elvis
Fisher's fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to Reynolds, and
they quickly became known as "America's favorite couple." Four
years later, Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor amid one
sensational headline after another.
He was Taylor's fourth husband, and the marriage lasted only
five years. She fell in love with co-star Richard Burton during the
Rome filming of "Cleopatra," divorced Fisher and married Burton
in one of the great entertainment world scandals of the 20th
An example of the obsession over the affair came in 1964 when
Taylor and Burton arrived at the Los Angeles airport to what AP
movie writer Bob Thomas described as a "seething, shouting, throng
of newsmen." Taylor was trying to divorce Fisher at the time, and
the two camps were exchanging a war of words in the media in what
Thomas called "filmdom's most famous - and lengthiest - love
Fisher's career never recovered from the notoriety. He married
actress Connie Stevens, and they had two daughters. Another divorce
followed. He married twice more.
"The world lost a true America icon," Fisher's family said in
a statement. "One of the greatest voices of the century passed
away. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch."
"He was loved & will be missed by his four children as well as
his six grandchildren," Carrie Fisher said on her Twitter account.
Carrie Fisher became a film star herself in the first three
"Star Wars" films as Princess Leia, and later as a best-selling
author of "Postcards From the Edge" and other books.
Edwin Jack Fisher was born Aug. 10, 1928, in Philadelphia, one
of seven children of a Jewish grocer. At 15 he was singing on
After moving to New York, Fisher was adopted as a protege by
comedian Eddie Cantor, who helped the young singer become a star in
radio, television and records.
Fisher had legions of teenage fans. Publicist-manager Milton
Blackstone helped the publicity by hiring girls to scream and swoon
at Fisher's appearances.
After getting out of the Army in 1953 following a two-year
hitch, hit records, his own TV show and the headlined marriage to
Reynolds made Fisher a top star. The couple costarred in a 1956
romantic comedy, "Bundle of Joy," that capitalized on their own
In 1960 he played a role in "Butterfield 8," for which Taylor
won an Academy Award. But that film marked the end of his movie
After being discarded by Taylor, Fisher became the butt of
comedians' jokes. He began relying on drugs to get through
performances, and his bookings dwindled. He later said he had made
and spent $20 million during his heyday, and much of it went to
gambling and drugs.
In 1983, Fisher attempted a full-scale comeback. But his old
fans had been turned off by the scandals, and the tour was
He had added to his notoriety that year with an autobiography,
"Eddie: My Life, My Loves." Of his first three marriages, he
wrote he had been bullied into marriage with Reynolds, whom he
didn't know well; became nursemaid as well as husband to Taylor;
and was reluctant to marry Connie Stevens but she was pregnant and
he "did the proper thing."
Another autobiography, "Been There, Done That," published in
1999, was even more searing. He called Reynolds "self-centered,
totally driven, insecure, untruthful, phony." He claimed he
abandoned his career during the Taylor marriage because he was too
busy taking her to emergency rooms and cleaning up after her pets,
children and servants. Both ex-wives were furious, and Carrie
Fisher threatened to change her name to Reynolds.
At 47, Fisher married a 21-year-old beauty queen, Terry Richard.
The marriage ended after 10 months. His fifth marriage, to Betty
Lin, a Chinese-born businesswoman, lasted longer than any of the
others. Fisher had two children with Reynolds: Carrie and Todd; and
two girls with Stevens: Joely and Tricia.