In Make 'Em Laugh, Reynolds also recounts the phone call she had with Elizabeth Taylor just one day before her death

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
November 01, 2015 11:05 AM
Courtesy Debbie Reynolds

Did Debbie Reynolds‘ derriére receive the royal seal of approval?

In her upcoming memoir, Make ‘Em Laugh (out Nov. 10), Reynolds, now 83, recounts the time Prince Philip might have slyly deviated from royal protocol during a rather chummy encounter when the pair attended Bob Hope’s 82nd birthday party in London in 1985.

“He was very charming. He put one arm around my waist, then held my hand,” she writes. “Almost immediately, he was holding more than my hand.”

“He caressed my backside,” she continues. “I had heard that he was famous for his ‘admiration’ of the ladies, but I didn’t expect him to be handling my booty. As handsome as Prince Philip is, I wasn’t sure if he was making a pass or just exercising some royal rights to squeeze the foreigners.”

Reynolds, who says she flew over in the Concorde alongside Brooke Shields to attend the glitzy affair with celebrities including Sir Michael Caine, Sir Ben Kingsley and Charlton Heston, says that although she was taken aback by the prince’s unexpected grope, she wasn’t upset about it.

“Actually, it was quite an honor to be patted down by this adorable prince,” she writes. “Once Robert Kennedy made a similar move while we were dancing, but his grope was less charming than the royal one.”

Reynolds, a member of Hollywood royalty for more than 60 years and whose films include Singin’ in the Rain, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and How the West Was Won, says her encounters with Prince Philip and Kennedy weren’t the only times a notable man came on to her unexpectedly.

Glen Campbell once pinned me to the pool table in his rec room,” she writes.

“I had gone to his house to rehearse a number we were doing for a Thalians gala,” she continues. “Next thing I knew, Glen was on top of me. Always a gymnast, I wiggled out from his grasp and was in my car before he knew it. I adore Glen, but not when he was looking for afternoon delight.”

Reynolds then went on to praise Campbell as “one of the best musicians ever” and said she was “so sorry about his Alzheimer’s diagnosis. He has faced it bravely.”

The upcoming book also touches on her famously complicated relationship with fellow actress Elizabeth Taylor – revealing that the two shared a warm conversation just one day before the star died in 2011.

“She had been in Cedars-Sinai for about six weeks,” she writes. “Everybody was very worried. I was in my house, and I thought, ‘I should call Elizabeth.’ I didn’t know that she was really on the last lap. She didn’t take calls, but she took my call. And we just made conversation.”

Reynolds recalls that Taylor asked about her daughter (Carrie Fisher) and when Reynolds asked her how she was feeling, Taylor replied “Not too well but I’m fighting all the way.”

Reynolds then wrote: “I couldn’t help thinking that if someone like Richard Burton walked in right then, she would get well.”

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(Taylor’s affair with Eddie Fisher – Reynolds’s then-husband – caused a major scandal in the late ’50s. Taylor later left Fisher for Burton.)

Despite their rocky history, Reynolds has been open about forgiving Taylor, and she reiterates that in her book.

“I loved Elizabeth,” she writes. “I never didn’t love her. But I felt sorry that she never got to enjoy a normal life.”