Debbie Reynolds was once part of the most scandalous love triangles in history.
In the early 1960s her husband, singer Eddie Fisher — once known as the Jewish Sinatra — abruptly left her for Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor had been recently widowed, and the Fishers had been her best friends. Debbie and Eddie had two little kids, but this didn't seem to matter to the adulterous duo.
The world gossiped about Reynolds-Fisher-Taylor then the way we do now about Tom and Nicole, or Sharon Stone or Jack Nicholson or Cher. It was endless.
Forty years later, Debbie doesn't have too many kind things to say about Eddie.
Fisher and Taylor broke up soon after their marriage, by the way, and he went on to another marriage with actress Connie Stevens, fathering two more daughters.
In April, Fisher — Reynolds and son Todd told me recently — lost his most recent wife, Betty Lin Fisher, to lung cancer. They'd been married since 1993. Evidently Betty Lin may have left the perpetually cash-poor Eddie some money — which is not good news, say his ex-wife and son.
"He wouldn't know how to handle it," said Debbie. "He'd run right through it. He never knew how to manage money."
Debbie said that in time she, Stevens, Taylor, and all the children, ex-spouses, etc. of Eddie Fisher have become great friends. Of course, in February Reynolds and Taylor co-starred in the TV movie These Old Broads which was written by Carrie Fisher, Debbie and Eddie's eldest child — also Princess Leia from Star Wars and a famous writer.
"He created a club and he didn't even know it," Debbie laughed. And why does she keep knocking him in public? "Listen, if we didn’t keep talking about Eddie Fisher, no one would know who he was!"
Just for the movie record books: Ben Affleck has now made two movies for a father and one for a son, and neither acknowledges the other.
As it turns out, Affleck has now made Pearl Harbor and Armageddon for Michael Bay, and Reindeer Games for John Frankenheimer. And the oddest part of that is that Bay is Frankenheimer's son, although the older director apparently doesn't list this in his official bio.
Frankenheimer, the extremely legendary director of The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May, and The Birdman of Alcatraz, made two movies in 1964, the year Bay was conceived — Seven Days and The Train. Bay has said in interviews that he's adopted but knows that his father is someone in Hollywood. It's been generally known that Frankenheimer is his father.
Strangely, Frankenheimer continues to deny the story. He even told the Los Angeles Times yesterday that there had once been "tests" to determine paternity (long before DNA testing). This, despite the fact that he admits to a one-night stand with Bay's biological mother in 1963.
Of course, there is also the issue of his being a dead ringer for Bay — tall and lanky. And then there's always the movie director thing. It's probably just a coincidence that they each specialize in action sequences. The difference of course is that Frankenheimer's — even when they're for a BMW commercial — have soul.
Bay's movies — Armageddon, The Rock, and now Pearl Harbor — tend to be elaborate packages that overcompensate with special effects a lack of storytelling. Newsweek's David Ansen has already criticized Pearl Harbor for no actual story other than the blowing up of Pearl Harbor itself. Screening audiences who saw the movie last week tend to agree, as well as insiders at Disney who are bracing for either a huge Memorial Day weekend, or a double bust with Nicole Kidman's Moulin Rouge.
Just as this column predicted, Jackie Jr. — played by Jason Cerbone — got whacked in the season finale of The Sopranos last night. The whole show was strange and lacking in suspense, but if you'd watched Touched by an Angel — well, there was the show.
CBS recently announced Angel would be losing its Sunday night slot, and not a moment too soon. It's the ultimate embarrassment on network TV. CBS's smart entertainment chief Les Moonves once said to me, "It’s not my cup of tea." Nicest thing I ever heard.
Last night's episode — which was inspired, I guess, by a really good movie, Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter — seemed like it should have been called "Celebrity Circus of Face Lifts." Nearly all the actors on the show had had an obvious lift, pull and tuck. And the cast could not have been more psychedelically campy: former movie star and Oscar diva Faye Dunaway actually had scenes with Designing Women's Delta Burke! Talk about 'Get out the wire hangers'!
Elsewhere in the same episode (and it was only an hour long!) you could find Golden Girl Rue MacLanahan; onetime Broadway and TV scene-chewer Nell Carter; All My Children's David Canary; and Dukes of Hazzard driver John Schneider. Add them to Della Reese (better portrayed by Tracy Morgan on Saturday Night Live these days) and Roma Downey, who's become a wrinkle-free buttery blonde!
Yes, they still shine a 75-watt bulb on Roma's head when she finally admits to the astonished guest stars that she's an angel! You wonder how they edit out the laughter from the crew. Or how her hair doesn't start burning from the light.
And they say there's nothing to watch on broadcast television. Pish tosh.