Brad Pitt leaving Jennifer Aniston for Angelina Jolie was nowhere near as scandalous as what happened to Debbie Reynolds.
The legendary actress, who died today aged 84, had her first husband stolen by her best friend, Elizabeth Taylor, who was the most famous actress in Hollywood at the time.
It was a love triangle that made headlines around the world at the time and Reynolds later spoke about the betrayal and her forgiveness on many occasions.
Reynolds and Taylor first met when they were teenagers.
“I went to MGM when I was around 17, and Liz was there too, but she was already a star,” Reynolds told People magazine.
“We went to school together on the lot, when she was in between films. I was just a beginner, and she and I were not in any manner alike, but we got along very well because I was in awe of going to school with Elizabeth Taylor. And if anyone said they weren’t, then they were lying. Or blind.”
As they both climbed the ladder of success in Hollywood, Reynolds and Taylor became great friends.
In 1955 Reynolds married the first of her three husbands, Eddie Fisher, and together they had two children, Carrie and Todd Fisher.Source:AP
But there were problems with their marriage, particularly in the bedroom. “I wasn’t a very sexual lady,” Reynolds confessed to The Express in 2015, “My husbands all repeatedly said the same thing — that I was not a very passionate woman.”
Two years later, when Taylor married Mike Todd [her third husband], Reynolds was her maid-of-honour.
Tragically, Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958 and both Reynolds and her husband were there to comfort the devastated star.
Reynolds didn’t raise an eyebrow when her husband moved in with Taylor so that he could keep an eye on her.
“He went with my blessing,” Reynolds wrote in her memoir, “The four of us were so close, I was sure he could comfort her.”
Two weeks after Todd’s death, Taylor and Fisher went to New York together and it quickly became apparent to Reynolds that her marriage was over.
“When [Fisher] left, I raised the children,” Reynolds said to People magazine, “He never sent any money, so I found it a little scary.”
Hollywood was stunned by Taylor’s betrayal and both she and Fisher were crucified by the press.Source:News Limited
Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper interviewed Taylor at the time about her actions and the movie star wasn’t at all apologetic.
“You can’t break up a happy marriage,” Taylor reportedly said to Hopper, “I’m not taking anything away from Debbie Reynolds because she never really had it.”
When Hopper asked Taylor what her recently deceased husband would have to say about the drama, she said, “Mike is dead and I’m alive. What do you expect me to do? Sleep alone?”
Reynolds gained the public’s sympathy as a result of being wronged by Taylor and in 1960 she managed to put the saga behind her when she married her second husband, Harry Karl.Source:AP
Karma caught up with Fisher though and in 1964 Elizabeth Taylor left him for Richard Burton.
Not long after Taylor and Burton had tied the knot, the newlyweds came face-to-face with Debbie Reynolds.
“I went on a cruise ship with Harry … and on the trip there was a lot of luggage arriving and I said, ‘Goodness, who has that amount of luggage?’” Reynolds explained to Oprah Winfrey in a 2011 interview.
“They said, ‘Oh, that’s Mrs. Taylor’s,’ and there she was coming on the trip with Richard Burton.”
Desperate to avoid an awkward confrontation, Reynolds reached out to Taylor.
“I sent a note to Elizabeth and I said, ‘Let’s not have a problem with all this, let’s enjoy the cruise ship and not be involved with what has gone on, let’s just talk and have dinner together.’
“We went to dinner and it was a big hassle because we had Richard Burton and all the news people hiding behind trees and bushes taking our picture.
“We went to the rest room, Elizabeth and I, and there was a big line of ladies and all the ladies went to me, ‘How can you talk to her?’ They were furious with me. And I said to them, ‘Oh get over it.’”Source:AP
“I felt you can’t make a man leave, you can’t make him do something he doesn’t want to do,” Reynolds said to People magazine about forgiving Taylor.
“He [Fisher] obviously chose to leave, didn’t he? She didn’t lasso him. She was just beautiful Elizabeth Taylor. And he wanted her, and he wanted to be her lover, so he left and he was. He was the selfish one. She just gave him what he wanted.”
According to Reynolds’ memoir, Taylor never forgave herself for stealing her friend’s husband.
“I’m so sorry for what I did to you with Eddie,” Taylor said to Reynolds one day.
“I just feel so awful when I think of how I hurt you and your children.”
“That was another lifetime,” Reynolds said to Taylor, “You and I made up years ago.”
Taylor and Reynolds rekindled their friendship and later starred together in the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads, written by Carrie Fisher.
They remained pals up until Taylor’s death in 2011.
Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times (she married one husband twice) during her colourful life and Debbie Reynolds was married three times.Source:Getty ImagesDespite the remarkable betrayal by her friend, Reynolds forgave Taylor (above together with Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins in 2001Reynolds married shoe magnate Harry Karl in 1960 a year after being publicly humiliated by Fisher and Taylor’s betrayal of her.Karl and Reynolds (seen in 1965) were married for 13 years before she divorced him in 1973 for squandering her fortune.She married real estate investor Richard Hamlett (seen together in 1991) in 1984 but divorced him in 1996