Eddie Fisher, ex-husband to Debbie Reynolds & Liz Taylor, dies at age 82

circa 1945:  American singer Eddie Fisher sits in a chair while petting his pet boxer, Junior.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Eddie Fisher passed away at the age of 82 last night in Berkeley. He lived a long, full life with lots of ex-wives and children and scandals and career highs and lows. Fisher’s family spokesperson called him “an extraordinary talent and a true mensch.” HuffPo/AP has more:

Pop singer Eddie Fisher, whose clear voice brought him a devoted following of teenage girls in the early 1950s before marriage scandals overshadowed his fame, has died at age 82. He passed away Wednesday night at his home in Berkeley of complications from hip surgery, his daughter, Tricia Leigh Fisher of Los Angeles, told The Associated Press.

“Late last evening the world lost a true America icon,” Fisher’s family said in a statement released by publicist British Reece. “One of the greatest voices of the century passed away. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch.”

The death was first reported by Hollywood website deadline.com. In the early 50s, Fisher sold millions of records with 32 hit songs including “Thinking of You,” “Any Time,” “Oh, My Pa-pa,” “I’m Yours,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Lady of Spain” and “Count Your Blessings.”

His fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to movie darling Debbie Reynolds – they were touted as “America’s favorite couple” – and the birth of two children. Their daughter 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. Carrie Fisher spent most of 2008 on the road with her autobiographical show “Wishful Drinking.” In an interview with The Associated Press, she told of singing with her father on stage in San Jose. Eddie Fisher was by then in a wheelchair and living in San Francisco.

When Eddie Fisher’s best friend, producer Mike Todd, was killed in a 1958 plane crash, Fisher comforted the widow, Elizabeth Taylor. Amid sensationalist headlines, Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959. The Fisher-Taylor 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 century.

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.

Edwin Jack Fisher was born Aug. 10, 1928, in Philadelphia, one of seven children of a Jewish grocer. At 15 he was singing on Philadelphia radio. 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’s romantic messages resonated with young girls in the pre-Elvis period. 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 parenthood.

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 career. 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 younger generation had been turned on by rock. The tour was unsuccessful. 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.

[From Huffington Post]

Yes, it’s very sad. But I’d like to do a little mini-Vintage Scandal Friday. I’ve been reading Furious Love, the biography of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton and their romance and marriage, and I have to admit, Eddie does not come across well. Although the authors give him some credit, he didn’t sound like the coolest guy at all. When Eddie Fisher publicly dumped Debbie Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor (after Taylor was widowed when Mike Todd died), the authors do make it sound like their marriage was a happy one for several years. But then Liz met Richard Burton, and all hell broke loose. Basically, Eddie was just Elizabeth’s assistant, one cog in her entourage at that point, and when Liz started her affair with Burton, Fisher had a fit and flew to another country. He did try to call Elizabeth in Rome though – only Richard answered the phone. When Eddie asked what Richard was doing in his home, Richard replied: “I’m f-cking your wife.” Eddie then came back to Rome and confronted Richard’s wife with their partners’ affair, and Sybil Burton basically dismissed Fisher too.

And in the end, Eddie really dragged his heels in the divorce too – Sybil Burton gave in to Richard’s divorce request a lot faster, but Eddie fought Elizabeth over everything. He even fought her on custody of her children with other men! The whole thing took, like, three years. Amazing.

So, rest in peace, Eddie, you mensch.

Elizabeth Taylor with husband Eddie Fisher at the party given in Rome for Stanley Kubrick's film 'Spartacus'. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

circa 1960:  American singer and actor Eddie Fisher and British actor Elizabeth Taylor attend the Academy Awards, Los Angeles, California. Taylor was married to Fisher, her fourth husband, from 1959 - 1964.  (Photo by David Sutton/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

circa 1955:  American singer Eddie Fisher (L) and his wife, actor Debbie Reynolds (C), drink a toast with actor Lucille Ball and her husband, actor and bandleader Desi Arnaz. There are balloons behind them.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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21 Responses to “Eddie Fisher, ex-husband to Debbie Reynolds & Liz Taylor, dies at age 82”

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  1. jen says:

    Thanks Kaiser, I was hoping you’d post this story!

    May the old cad rest in peace!

  2. Linda says:

    I don’t know how he lasted so long, he was a total cokehead. And why were we deprived of James Dean and yet Fisher lived to 82? Strange.

  3. Stronzilla says:

    Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, now there was a love story.

  4. mln says:

    It’s sad when anyone dies so RIP Eddie Fisher as for scandals I love the Clarke Gable/ Lorretta Young love child story it is pretty wild how they kept that under wraps.

  5. Cheyenne says:

    Oh wow, does this bring back memories… that scandal made Pitt/Jolie/Aniston pale in comparison. Front-page coverage on every newspaper in the country. I always said Taylor would dump him as soon as she found somebody better. Fisher couldn’t handle her; the guy was a wimp. Taylor needed a strong man like Mike Todd in her life. If Todd hadn’t been killed I think they would have remained happily married for decades.

    As for Fisher’s music, I thought I would hurl every time “Oh My Pa-pa” came on the radio, but he recorded two real gems, “Everybody’s Got a Home But Me”, and the hauntingly beautiful “Wish You Were Here”.

  6. Xiufetish says:

    Tricia Fisher? Does that constitute child abuse?

  7. Relli says:

    Brangelina wish they were as thrilling as Liz, Dick & Eddie. Could you imagine how much more entertaining the whole thing would have been if Jen, Brad & Angelina would have holed up in a Mexico Villa drinking and making Brad decide at knife point which one he wanted to be with.

    @mln I KNOW! She looks so much like Clark, did you know they went as far to have the little girl’s ears pinned back because it was so obvious.

  8. mln says:

    @ Rell did you see the daughters 20/20 interview years ago?? She described how she had to wear hats for years until she was old enough to have the surgery what a story!
    BTW I think its the tabs who wish that Brangelina were Richard and Liz which is why there are so many fabricated stories.

  9. bizzy says:

    @Relli: making Brad decide at knife point

    well, since it’s clearly angie holding the knife, i think the answer’s obvious.

  10. BIte me says:

    Brangelina are the new Woodward and newman…. Boring to some but I love la Jolie so who cars if she’s not as dramatc as dame Liz

  11. Jeri says:

    I’m sure every generation says it but it seems the current celebs are a pale imitation of the classics. R.I.P.

  12. Relli says:

    @mln NO i did not! I must find it now.

  13. Sumodo1 says:

    He’s in hell.

  14. Cheyenne says:

    @Sumodo: How do you know? You saw him down there next to you?

  15. la chica says:

    i was shocked to discover this man was still alive.

  16. sandy says:

    Elizabeth is paying for her sins too, if she did not love the men, why bother? ruin people lives because you can, or you’re lonely? oh well. not that love is the right reason, but understandable.

  17. Anti-icon says:

    I seriously can’t believe he fought Elizabeth Taylor for custody of her children from other men!!! That’s kinda bold, for a guy with no backbone. Elizabeth Taylor knew she was opening Pandora’s Box and she did it anyway. Kinda like the little lady behind Brangelina.

    And I really like all strong women, but boy, do strong women make trouble for children when they shift their main purpose from mom to lover.

  18. valerie says:

    why do people love liz so much but hate angie? theyre both homewreckers and get no respect from me…

  19. Kathie says:

    Leave poor Eddie alone!Were/are there any out there who didn’t/don’t have some kind of ‘scandal’ in their life?What he did is no worse than what is going on now-we are just numb to it because it happens all the time now!Focus on his fantastic voice…after all he was a great singer!Rest in peace,Papa!

    • Betty says:

      I agree leave Eddie alone. Eddie Fisher was a very talented singer. He was also a very nice person. Even his children admit he was not a bad person, he was just not able to be a good Dad, given his lifestyle. All of his kids are spoiled brats. I knew him as a wondeful person and entertainer. He never asked for custody of Liz Taylor’s kids. Even now, her kids are writing a tell all on her. She was not a good mother at all.

  20. LINN says:

    wow—Eddie–a nursemaid to Liz?—bullied into marrying Debbie?—what a loser—and sad to say – a coward—nice guy but a sissy coward—-he didn’t spare Debbie and his kids feelings when he abandoned them>>so much into himself>>for Liz- and really didn’t care–until Liz dumped him for Richard__Yay! for you Burton—Eddie you deserved that!!-his ego was so gone that he just couldn’t believe this was happening to him..he thought Liz and Eddie forever–NOT…she just used him until her reality woke up!! and Liz deep down was very sorry for hurting Debbie–but she had the life preserver and she used it..Debbie was extremely devastated and hurt ((no kidding)) and managed to goof up as well…but i loved those guys and the colours of their life added a rainbow to many…that such is the wild hollywood life — everyone knows>>> but what a story and today it continues on–like i understood that Joely Fisher did not even know that Carrie was her half sister????Princess Leia is my sister??? would like to hear that story……anyone?????