There are very few instances where the names Queen Elizabeth, Debbie Reynolds, and Elizabeth Taylor are combined in a sentence, but the one time they were turned out to be an epic road to relationship healing that led to other important events.
The way Queen Elizabeth was involved was due to a ship named after her. In the tabloids of the late 1950s, it was well-known and discussed that Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor were sworn enemies because of a love triangle they were in with Eddie Fisher, Carrie Fisher’s father.
Despite the roller coaster of their friendship, Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Fisher eventually made up while aboard the Queen Elizabeth. Perhaps the most important event that came out of that healing process that involved Queen Elizabeth’s name was the very last film Elizabeth Taylor was ever in — These Old Broads.
In another twist of fate, the comedy was written by Carrie Fisher for her mother, Debbie Reynolds, and the 2001 film for television also starred Elizabeth Taylor with Shirley MacLaine. Many years later, Carrie Fisher talked about her relationship with Elizabeth Taylor, and she discussed the Queen Elizabeth makeup between Liz and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.
About the aftermath of their Queen Liz makeup, Carrie Fisher said that when Elizabeth Taylor died on March 23, 2011, Debbie Reynolds was very upset emotionally and stated the following.
“She and Elizabeth Taylor became stars together [at age 17] and, even though they weren’t speaking during the break-up, they’d become friends again. It’s always sad and scary when a friend and contemporary dies.”
What started the love triangle was the death of Elizabeth Taylor’s filmmaker husband, Mike Todd, who died in 1958 in a plane crash. At the time, Debbie Reynolds sent over her husband, Eddie Fisher, to go see how Elizabeth Taylor was doing. This made a lot of sense because Eddie Fisher was Mike Todd’s best man at his marriage to Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds was the matron of honor.
Unfortunately, Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor soon fell in love and left behind Debbie Reynolds and their daughter Carrie Fisher who was only 18 months old at the time. Years later, Carrie Fisher stated that Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with Eddie Fisher enough to break up his marriage to Debbie Reynolds because Eddie “kept Mike Todd alive.”
In a time when divorce and infidelity, especially for public figures like celebrities, was somewhat taboo, Elizabeth Taylor was already widowed once and divorced twice. On the other hand, Debbie Reynolds was a virgin on her wedding night to Eddie Fisher. Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds also had a son they named Todd after Mike before he died.
Adding to the betrayal, the day after his divorce with Debbie Reynolds was finalized, he married Elizabeth Taylor in 1959. Therefore, it was no surprise to see that Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds openly had a rift against each other for several years until their unexpected Queen Elizabeth makeup.
About Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor becoming friends again after their Queen Elizabeth rekindling, Carrie Fisher told Daily Mail in 2011 that all of them got together in 2000 to do a read-through of the script for These Old Broads. During the session, Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds started talking about Eddie Fisher, and they were rolling with laughter about their shared opinion that he had a flat behind.
One jab at Elizabeth Taylor in that script written by Carrie Fisher is that Liz’s character steals the husband of Debbie Reynolds. Although Elizabeth Taylor was in poorer health at that time in her life, she said playing the role for Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher was her attempt at “making amends” for her part in humiliating Reynolds with her betrayal with Eddie Fisher.
The story of the ship called the Queen Elizabeth where Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor buried the hatchet of their love triangle happened after they were both remarried. In recollections of the 1964 event, both Debbie Reynolds and Liz independently decided to use the opportunity of randomly crossing paths aboard the Queen Elizabeth ship to formally make up.
As the story goes, they both ended up sending messages to each other’s living quarters on the Queen Elizabeth ship with suggestions that they should have a group dinner with their new husbands, Harry Karl and Richard Burton.
Interestingly, the Queen Elizabeth boat that Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor restored their friendship on was owned by the Cunard cruise company, and they now have a new second luxury cruise liner named the Queen Elizabeth that is actually sanctioned by the Queen of England herself.
For Elizabeth Taylor film trivia buffs, her very last on-screen appearance after These Old Broads was the TV series God, the Devil and Bob in 2001.
[Featured Image by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images]