The Complicated Feud And Friendship Of Debbie Reynolds And Elizabeth Taylor

Liz and Debbie side by side

It's no secret that celebrity feuds are fascinating and capture the attention of the general public. Fans are eager to see the real side of their idol, and what's more real than a public confrontation? While Ryan Murphy explored the feud between Betty Davis and Joan Crawford in his FX series, there's an even more complicated and fascinating past between icons Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor. The movie legends had a friendship and strong feud which spanned decades, eventually concluding with Taylor's passing in 2011. And it's a relationship that was heavily documented every step of the way.

Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor started out as friends, as the pair of actresses began to rise in the world of Hollywood. Taylor was a sex symbol and arguably a bigger star, while Reynolds made a name for herself in movies like Singin' In The Rain. The ladies were both also married, and would frequently double date. Debbie was married to crooner Eddie Fisher (the father of Carrie and Todd) while Liz wed Mike Todd. But when Taylor was widowed after Todd's sudden death via plane crash, it was Eddie Fisher who comforted her, albeit in a NSFW way.

Elizabeth Taylor and Eddie Fisher began a famous affair while he was still married to Debbie Reynolds, a story that circulated around in the news and papers at the time. But it wasn't until she called Liz Taylor's hotel room and her husband picked up the phone that she knew it was real. Reynolds spoke to The Daily Mail about the revelation back in 2010, saying:

Suddenly, a lot of things clicked into place. I could hear her voice asking him who was calling - they were obviously in bed together. I yelled at him, 'Roll over, darling and let me speak to Elizabeth.'

Talk about drama. That's a serious pill for Debbie Reynolds to swallow, especially regarding her best friend and the father of her children. Carrie Fisher famously spoke about the affair and her parents' various marriages in her memoir and HBO special Wishful Drinking. Fisher has always been known for her trademark wit and snark, and she certainly didn't hold back when it came to her father's decision to start the affair. As she told it,

Naturally, my father flew to Elizabeth's side, gradually making his way slowly to her front. He first dried her eyes with his handkerchief, then he consoled her with flowers, and he ultimately consoled her with his penis Now this made marriage to my mother awkward, so he was gone within the week.

While Debbie Reynolds didn't believe in divorce, she ultimately let Eddie Fisher go, and he and Elizabeth Taylor promptly wed. Years later, Taylor would claim she only married him due to the death of her last husband, and they ultimately didn't end up having a very long romance. Because while working on Cleopatra, Liz began having an affair with frequent co-star Richard Burton. "Liz and Dick" were born, and Liz and Eddie were officially over. But that unfortunately didn't help mend things between she and Debbie Reynolds. At least not yet.

Debbie and Liz in a promo photo for

Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor would remain out of touch for seven years, until they accidentally booked the same cruise ship in 1966. Both remarried at that point, Reynolds reportedly extended the olive branch by sending a note to Taylor's room, resulting in the two new couples burying the hatchet and dining together onboard.

Ultimately, Debbie Reynolds seemed to put far more blame on Eddie Fisher than Elizabeth Taylor for their affair, given that the latter was going through such an emotionally exhausting time in her life. While the two ladies eventually found a way to get their shared lover and history, Debbie and Eddie never met eye to eye, and have both since passed away. Luckily, that wasn't the case for Reynolds and Taylor.

The women would star in the 2001 TV movie These Old Broads. Written by Carrie Fisher herself, the cast also included the likes of Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins. Fisher even included a plot line that very much mirrored real life. Taylor's character stole Reynolds' ex-husband, but they were able to remain friends. You can check out one of the most famous scene from These Old Broads below.

This final reunion and movie together would gain extra importance when Elizabeth Taylor died just a month after it aired on TV. These Old Broads will forever be her final credit, making the shared scenes with Debbie Reynolds carry extra emotional weight. Once again, we have Carrie Fisher to thank, as she continues to make her mother's personal issues into art. It's still unclear how much Debbie appreciated all that.

Despite being the pinnacle of Hollywood gossip in the 60's, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor were ultimately able to get over their feud. We'll just have to wait and see if the modern feuds like Katy Perry and Taylor Swift ultimately end the same way.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.