Singer, TV and film star, and center of one of Hollywood's most talked-about scandals Eddie Fisher died last night—according to Deadline, of complications from hip surgery. He was 82.
Fisher was a 1950s crooner who was groomed for stardom by Eddie Cantor, becoming one of the most popular entertainers in the era’s top nightclubs. In 1954, he scored a No. 1 hit with his version of the German song"Oh My Pa-Pa."
Fisher was so well-liked that NBC gave him two series, Coke Time With Eddie Fisher (sponsored by Coca-Cola, not… you know) and The Eddie Fisher Show, that spanned nearly the entire decade, leading to him branching out into film acting. In 1955, he married MGM sweetheart Debbie Reynolds, with whom he starred in the 1956 musical Bundle Of Joy.
Four years later, he became the center of one of Hollywood’s biggest scandals when he dumped Reynolds for his Butterfield 8 co-star Elizabeth Taylor, who was also the widow of his best friend, Mike Todd, who’d died in a plane crash just over a year before. The fallout from Fisher’s quickie divorce and remarriage—sort of the Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston-Angelina Jolie of its day—was so nasty that NBC canceled his series, and RCA Victor dropped him from the label.
Fisher’s image never really recovered from this, to the point where, when Taylor divorced him three years later to romance her Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton, many saw it as karmic retribution. Nevertheless, Fisher soldiered gamely on with his musical career, returning to RCA in the mid-‘60s and scoring a minor hit with 1966’s “Games Lovers Play,” and recording and touring sporadically until the 1980s, though his popularity had waned considerably—and certainly not helped by Taylor and Reynolds, who’d rekindled their friendship and set about publicly trash-talking him, most notably in the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads.
Fisher married Connie Stevens in 1967, with whom he fathered actress Joely Fisher; his other famous daughter, of course, is Carrie Fisher, whom he fathered with Reynolds. Carrie Fisher was notoriously embarrassed by her father, especially after the publication of his autobiographies—1981’s Eddie: My Life, My Loves and 1999’s Been There, Done That—which traded heavily on saucy anecdotes from his many famous conquests and, as an act of revenge, trashed both of his ex-wives. After the publication of the latter, Carrie Fisher remarked, “That’s it. I’m having my DNA fumigated,” and threatened to change her last name to Reynolds. The incorrigible Eddie Fisher is survived by four ex-wives; his fifth and most recent, Betty Lin, died in 2001.