Eddie Fisher, the ’50s singing superstar whose crooning career was torpedoed by his involvement in perhaps the most-publicized sex scandal of the last century, died after suffering complications from recent hip surgery. He was 82.
“Late [Wednesday] evening, the world lost a true American icon,” Fisher’s family said in a statement. “He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch [Yiddish for person of integrity].”
Father to Star Wars star and Postcards from the Edge author Carrie Fisher, among others, Edwin Jack Fisher died in his home in Berkeley, Calif. The family statement also read: “He was loved and will be missed by his four children: Carrie, Todd, Joely, and Tricia Leigh as well as his six grandchildren.”
With such chart-toppers as his signature 1953 “Oh! My Papa,” Fisher first skyrocketed to radio fame after being discovered at a Catskills mountain resort. So popular was the singer with his boy-next-door charm that when Coca-Cola signed him to his own TV show, Coke Time with Eddie Fisher (it ran from 1953 to 1957), the company paid him $1 million. Fisher’s reputation was further enhanced by his 1955 marriage to screen sweetheart Debbie Reynolds.
Only then came rock ‘n’ roll, and Fisher’s sentimental songs no longer set young hearts aflutter. Further and even more damaging was his falling in love with the recently widowed Elizabeth Taylor – whose husband, Fisher’s best friend producer Mike Todd, was killed in a 1958 plane crash.
Fisher and Taylor’s illicit romance – Fisher left Reynolds and their two young children – and their subsequent 1959 marriage effectively ended Fisher’s professional career. And the shunned couple weren’t together very long, either: The Fisher-Taylor marriage effectively ended starting in 1962, when she took up with costar Richard Burton when they were making the epic Cleopatra. Later Fisher complained in his two autobiographies that all he had ever been to Liz was a nursemaid to her and a babysitter to her children and pets.
Fisher would later claim that in his lifetime he had made and spent $20 million.
All told, Fisher wed five times, including a 1967-69 marriage to actress Connie Stevens (with whom he had two more children); a 1975-77 union to beauty queen Terry Richard (who was 21 years his junior); and a 1993-2001 marriage (his wife predeceased him) to Chinese-born businesswoman Betty Lin.
Fisher’s relationship with daughter Carrie, 53, was famously lacking when she was growing up, though the two reconciled before his death.
On Friday morning, the actress shared the news of her father’s death on Twitter. “My Puff Daddy passed away Wednesday night due to complications following his hip surgery,” she Tweeted. “He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch.”
Their relationship and the Fisher-Reynolds-Taylor triangle still continuing to fascinate – Carrie and others have compared it to the modern-day “Brangelina” saga – Carrie Fisher discussed that era in her own life with journalists only last August.
“I saw him more on TV than on the planet,” Carrie said at a TV Critics Association Summer Press Tour. “But I have a great relationship with him today.”
Also on Friday, Debbie Reynolds, 78, said that the marital scandal was ancient history and that God had granted Fisher forgiveness and admittance to Heaven.