A look at Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor's complicated friendship after Taylor's betrayal


Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor were two of the biggest screen stars in Hollywood's Golden Era.

Naturally, the two became close friends as they rose up the ranks of Tinseltown — but their friendship dismantled following a devastating affair.

The actresses first met as classmates in the early 1950s when they were both studying at MGM.

"I went to MGM when I was around 17, and Liz was there too, but she was already a star," Debbie told People in 2015. "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."

Taylor had already established herself as a huge icon, with starring roles in "Little Women," "Cynthia" and "Father of the Bride" under her belt. Reynolds also made her way to the spotlight when she starred in "Singin' In the Rain."

From there, the two were near equals in star power and became famous power couples once they both married. Reynolds married singer Eddie Fisher in 1955 and Taylor married Mike Todd in 1957. Reynolds served as matron of honor to Taylor and Fisher was Todd's best man.

Wedding Photo For Fisher And Reynolds
Wedding Photo For Fisher And Reynolds

The four were reportedly inseparable and were even neighbors. But everything changed when Todd was killed in a plane crash. Taylor was reportedly supposed to join him on the small plane, ironically named "Lucky Liz," but she didn't because she had a cold. They were only married for one year.

Actress Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd at Their Wedding
Actress Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd at Their Wedding

Fisher reportedly decided to console Taylor, but things turned romantic pretty quickly and he cheated on his wife, Reynolds.

PHOTOS: The couple's in their early years

"I was the last to find out about the affair," Debbie told The Daily Mail in 2010. "There had been hints in the papers and I had noticed that when I turned up at functions or parties on my own my friends were whispering. Although I didn't want to find out the truth, I had to face up to it. Even so, it was a great shock to find them together. It left me shattered."

At the time, Reynolds and Fisher had two children, Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher. Reynolds felt that her good friend Liz had betrayed her. "We were friends for years and years, but we had a lapse of time when she took Eddie to live with her because she liked him, too," the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" star said. "She liked him well enough to take him without an invitation!"

Carrie later wrote about her father's embarrassing situation in her 2001 memoir, "Wishful Drinking." "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," the actress quipped. "Now this made marriage to my mother awkward, so he was gone within the week."

Reynolds was considered America's Sweetheart and she quickly had Eddie move out, but was reluctant at first given the fact that she had small children.

"I was a virgin when I married Eddie, but Elizabeth had been married three times. I was devastated because I had two children," Reynolds told The Daily Mail. "I was very religious so I didn't believe in divorce, but they laid guilt on me that I was keeping them and true love apart. So, I finally let Eddie off the hook. I told him to go."

Reynolds went on to raise her children alone and without Eddie's support. She later recalled that he never even paid her to help with her children's upbringing. Eddie married Taylor and they were together from 1959-1964 until she left him for her "Cleopatra" co-star, Richard Burton.

Reynolds went on to marry millionaire businessman Harry Karl, who struggled with gambling. He reportedly gambled away nearly all of her fortune.

Reynolds and Taylor didn't speak for over 7 years until a chance-meeting when they were both boarding the Queen Elizabeth ship to London in 1966.

"I looked up and I saw tons of luggage going by me and birdcages and dog cages and nurses and I realized Elizabeth was on the same ship as me," Debbie told PopEater years later.

The two decided to bury the hatchet and have dinner together with their now-husbands. "The four of us ended up having dinner and it was wonderful. She'd moved along in her life and so had I. If your husband's going to leave you for anyone, it might as well be Elizabeth Taylor. She was beautiful, smart, and a very sexual woman and I was very different—not exactly a sex kitten. I told [Eddie] she'd throw him out eventually and that's exactly what happened. But he wasn't the brightest of men."

PHOTOS: A look at Liz and Debbie in the later years

Fisher and Reynolds never had a friendship after their divorce. Fisher famously trash-talked her in his memoirs before his death and said that his ex's entire "life was an act" and she "should have won an Academy Award for playing the wronged woman."

Reynolds wasn't too pleased with her ex either, and instead chose to salvage her relationship only with Elizabeth. The women went on to star in "These Old Broads" alongside Joan Collins and Shirley MacLaine. The film was written by Carrie.

Reynolds had a chance to also say her final goodbye to her longtime friend before she died in 2011. She told People, "She expressed how scary it was. We talked about that for a while, that it's really hell getting older. We were complaining to each other about that. Like two girls would."

Debbie Reynolds, perhaps, died of a broken heart on Wednesday, following the sudden death of her daughter, Carrie Fisher. Reynolds was planning her daughter's funeral, when she reportedly had a stroke and passed away. Her final commentary was that she "wanted to be with Carrie."

PHOTOS: A look back at Debbie Reynolds in movies