Elizabeth Taylor is one of history’s greatest female screen legends. Her talent was undeniable — and she won two Academy Awards for her parts in Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? But the public loved her so much that they also obsessed over her personal life. Taylor had alluring looks — those nearly violet eyes and the double set of natural eyelashes — and fielded any number of suitors. She even made men husbands at some point in her life. Yet the public didn’t respond kindly to all of Taylor’s personal relationships. Her affair with a married man made her one player in a highly publicized love triangle. And the intimate letters between her and Richard Burton reveal just how fiery her relationships could get.
Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds — best of friends
The love triangle that spawned a million column inches started in the early 1950s. Taylor met a young Debbie Reynolds while attending school on the MGM lot between movie shoots. As Reynolds told People in 2015, “I was just a beginner, and [Taylor] 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 going blind.”
Reynolds weds Eddie Fisher
Soon, though, Reynolds would join Taylor’s ranks as a Hollywood star herself, thanks to the release of Singin’ in the Rain in 1952. The actor’s personal life also took off after she starred in the movie. In 1955 she wed crooner Eddie Fisher, whose popularity at the time mirrored that of Frank Sinatra. At this point, Taylor was coming into her own as a movie star while navigating her own personal loves. She was on to her second husband, Michael Wilding.
Here comes the bride
That marriage wouldn't last, however, and it wasn't long before Taylor was moving on to husband number three. This was the film producer Mike Todd. And not only was Taylor close with Reynolds, but Todd had a great friendship with Reynolds’ groom, Fisher. This led Taylor and Todd to include Reynolds and Fisher in their 1957 wedding ceremony. Reynolds told the Daily Mail in 2010, “Eddie had been best man at their wedding, and I had been a bridesmaid. We saw a lot of each other.”
The first power couples
In fact, some consider the Taylor-Todd and Reynolds-Fisher pairings to be some of Hollywood’s first so-called power couples. Little did any of them know, none of it would last. But the circumstances that brought everything to a halt started with a tragedy. Within a year of saying “I do” to Taylor — and welcoming their first child, a daughter named Liza — Todd perished in a plane crash. He had been traveling in his private plane — which he had named The Liz.