Every day there seems to be a new scandal of some kind involving a celebrity, but misadventures by the rich and famous are nothing new. We certainly had our share of them while I was growing up, and even if there were fewer ways to spread the stories, people still found ways to pass the word.
Some scandals were just whispered about when the kids (like me) were around, but others were very public. I remember a really big scandal that involved a popular crooner, and it began what was to become an ongoing theme with him — so much so that he’s more remembered for the women in his life than he is for his string of million-sellers.
Eddie Fisher was a huge star by the early 1950’s. He’d worked his way up, mostly through radio and the Borscht Belt (with a little help from Eddie Cantor), and had generated some good record sales. He had million-sellers with “Any Time” and “Tell Me Why”, and followed with a string of hits that included “Wish You Were Here”, “I’m Walking Behind You” and “Oh! My Pa-Pa”. His fans – who were mostly women – loved his looks, his voice, and his nice-guy image.
He also got lucky in love, and he and movie star Debbie Reynolds were married in 1955. They were the perfect storybook couple, the dimpled crooner with the swooning fans and the cute-as-a-button girl next door. America loved them and couldn’t get enough of the impossibly lovable couple. Their smiling faces were on magazine covers and the following year Hollywood even starred both in Bundle Of Joy.
Eddie continued to sell records, with songs such as “Dungaree Doll” aimed for the younger crowd, but sales didn’t reach previous levels. Meanwhile, he concentrated a lot of his energy on TV and movies, and that connection to the Hollywood crowd got him into trouble.
He was friends with Elizabeth Taylor and her producer husband Mike Todd, and when Todd died in a plane crash the widow turned to Eddie for comfort. You can figure out the rest, and when the news came out about their scandalous affair most people sided with poor Debbie and against Eddie and the “evil” Liz.
After the divorce, Debbie continued with a long career as a movie star and Eddie began trying to rebuild his image with his public. It didn’t help that most people felt that Liz was just toying with Eddie, and even though they were married for a while, she later left him for Richard Burton. (She began her long, rocky relationship with Burton during the filming of Cleopatra.)
In the late 1960’s Eddie married (and later divorced) entertainer Connie Stevens, and in subsequent decades married twice more. Meanwhile, Liz and Debbie eventually became good friends and even appeared together in a TV movie, where their characters poked fun at the husband they’d shared. Hollywood — gotta love it.
Eddie has continued to work through the years, with mixed success but occasional good results, and has managed to forge a pretty good career. But the final irony might be that in recent years he’s been better known as Princess Leia’s father — his and Debbie’s daughter, Carrie Fisher, played the part in the Star Wars movies. (He has 3 other children, including actress Joely Fisher.)