Elizabeth Taylor: “Please, Give Eddie and Me Another Chance . . .”
It is 12:31 a.m. At the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas. The act on the stage is finishing, the audience is applauding, Liz Taylor quietly takes her seat, ringside.
Liz is wearing a rainbow-colored dress covered with sequins. Her eyes sparkle, too. She slips into a chair next to Eddie’s mother, Mrs. Kate Stupp, who is sitting next to Eddie’s father, Joseph Fisher. Kate and Joe are divorced; both are now remarried; they are friendly, although they don’t talk much to each other. Mike Todd Jr. is sitting directly across the table from Liz. Mike Jr. is dark and handsome and his face, usually expressionless, is that of a serious and intense person. Liz and Mike Jr. are very friendly and are said to understand each other. Mike Jr., one of Eddie’s best friends, flew in from Spain to be best man at the wedding. Earlier that morning Eddie and Mike Jr. played 18 holes of golf on the famous course at the Desert Inn. It was a lose game, Eddie winning this one. You and I are sitting at the adjacent table, facing Liz. We couldn’t be closer to her without being her escort.
Two minutes later—12:33 a.m.—Eddie comes onstage, singing. Eddie is standing in the dark. The spotlight is on the other side of the stage. Eddie is baffled. He doesn’t know whether to walk toward the spotlight or wait for the spotlight to find him. He continues singing, waiting. The spotlight doesn’t move. Eddie, continuing to sing, walks toward the spotlight. The spotlight quickly moves to the place Eddie has vacated. Eddie gets a little wise.
“Oh . . . you’re starting with the gags,” he mutters.
Liz giggles. The audience is amused. They are watching Liz as intently as they are Eddie. She has become an important part of his act as well as his life. She should receive billing.
Eddie never sang better. He feels and looks comfortable on the stage. He is easy, unbending for the first time. He is in command and projects authority. He is no longer the boy singer. He acts like a man.
Practically every song he sings has a double meaning. Early in his routine Eddie sings “Makin’ Whoopee!”
“Another bride, another June,
Another sunny honeymoon . . .”
All eyes in the rather large Tropicana club room travel from the singer over to ringside Liz, who is smiling, her right arm resting on the railing of the orchestra pit. Liz Taylor is almost as much a part of the act as Eddie. She divides the attention of the audience, composed of friends and tourists.
Often during the performance, Liz mouths the words with Eddie. She has a crabmeat cocktail and some wine. The real food and the champagne (Liz’ favorite beverage) she is waiting to have later with Eddie. Sometimes she beats out the tempo of the song with her fingers on the table; it looks as if she were typing. I don’t have the slightest doubt that Eddie is playing mainly to his future bride and she is loving it.
During the performance, the gags continue. For example, when Eddie sings his hit “Oh My Pappa,” every musician in the orchestra takes out his handkerchief and pretends to wipe his eyes. Papa Fisher wears a slight smile.
A little later, Eddie sings “Hava Nagila,” announcing that it is Liz’ and his favorite song. I guess we could call it their “our song.” Liz stops eating, drinking and tapping the table for this one. She looks at Eddie with big, love-filled eyes.
Eddie concludes with “Somewhere.” from Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”
“There’s a place for us, somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us somewhere. . . .
We’ll find a new way of living,
We’ll find a way of forgiving,
Somewhere—there’s a place for us.”
The audience applauds fast and loud and long. So does Liz.
While Eddie is taking still another bow. a waiter can be heard bawling out a customer. All attention goes to the waiter.
He is Don Rickles, the professional insulter. He happens to be in Vegas, playing the Sahara Lounge. Fisher announces him, and in less time than it takes to get a marriage license, even in Vegas, Rickles is on the stage. He gives Eddie a few rapid insults—“Why should tomorrow night be different from all other nights?”
It’s the night before the wedding. That’s why Eddie, Liz, the relatives, the friends are in Las Vegas. The scene shifts to Eddie’s dressing room. He is now taking off his makeup. The room is crowded with friends, relatives, newspapermen and, of course, Liz. The traffic is continuous, coming and going. With the exception of Liz. She is permanent.
Eddie says to no one in particular: “That’s it. That’s it. That was the end!”
Liz answers him, “No! It’s only the beginning. You’re only starting, Mr. Fisher.”
“It was your last night as a single,” Joey Forman wisecracks, “and you were great. Get it—as a single!”
Eddie laughs, gets up from the chair and kisses Liz. “Elisheba, you’re wonderful . . . and beautiful.” Elisheba is Liz’ name in Hebrew, and his pet name for her.
“What about tomorrow?” Milton Blackstone, Eddie’s manager, wants to know. “The judge. Don’t you think we ought to discuss it?”
“Discuss . . . discuss,” Eddie says, “I’m disgusted with discussing.”
“That’s pretty good,” Joey says. Then, having caught the note of irritation in Eddie’s voice, Liz suggests, “Why don’t we get something to eat, say, in the room? We can arrange everything there. Eddie must be starved. He hasn’t eaten anything all night.”
Mike Todd Jr. nods and says, “Good idea, Liz.”
“I feel fine,” Eddie says. Then, looking around the room, he asks, “Good show tonight, wasn’t it? A great audience. I could feel they were with us.”
“Only time I got nervous,” Liz answers, “was when you introduced me and that fellow in the audience hollered, ‘Get her up on the stage.’ You quieted him nicely.”
Most of the people begin to leave the dressing room. Shortly afterward, Eddie, Liz, and a few relatives exit. They are met in the corridor by a newspaperman who asks a typical question about the situation and pending marriage. Eddie has grown accustomed to this type of question—in fact, all types—and answers smiling.
He says, “I’ve come to believe that if you’re heart says it’s right, do it.” Liz nods her approval. “I say goodnight until tomorrow.”
The next day Eddie Fisher leaves the Tropicana Hotel at 1:30 p.m. for the court- house, where two officials were to shatter the atmosphere of love in bloom with fiery blasts. At the courthouse, District Attorney George Foley declared: “The whole thing is a spectacle . . . a circus . . . a travesty of justice in Nevada courts.”
District Judge George Marshall was even sharper. He said it would make a “sham” of Nevada divorce laws to grant Fisher an immediate divorce “if the publicity in this man’s life is only one-tenth truthful.” Judge Marshall said he was referring to the state law listing requirements for applicants for divorce. Nevada law requires a six-week residency with indication of intent to live in the state.
Someone murmurs, “At least Fisher displayed more evidence of intent to live in Las Vegas than the vast majority of people who are granted divorces according to the Nevada law. They shouldn’t try to change the people; they should change the law.”
While this is going on, I drive out with photographer Larry Barbier to the modern house with a butterfly-shaped roof that Eddie bought from the builder, Irwin Mulasky. The house is so new that the foilage hasn’t been placed in front and the house doesn’t even have a number yet. It will be 310 Twain Road, and it is opposite the third hole on the Desert Inn golf course. In fact it’s merely a short putt from the master bedroom.
A tree grows right in the living room of the new Fisher house, and provision has been made for full-growth, so it will be able to protrude through the ceiling and lift its leafy arms toward the sky.
There’s a fireplace and a laundry and a refrigerator. These objects will remain no matter what new furniture Liz brings in and how they arrange the rooms. I don’t know if Liz can cook or likes to; I know that both of them love to eat. The master bedroom will have a king-sized bed. It now has twin beds, which Liz, although realizing she and Eddie wouldn’t occupy them, managed to push together during their inspection of the house.
Supposedly, Eddie bought this house. The truth is that he only made a downpayment on it, with an option to buy. Also, Eddie didn’t buy this house in his name or as a gift for Liz. The option-to-buy was taken by Ramrod, a production firm owned by Fisher and Blackstone.
Meanwhile, back at the Las Vegas courthouse, Eddie Fisher, wearing a gray coat and slacks, enters the courtroom amid spectators, newspapermen and photographers. It is 1:50 pm. District Judge David Zenoff presides.
Eddie asks for and receives authorization for a closed hearing on the divorce action, declaring: “If the public only knew the truth, the real reasons for our split-up.”
Is there still something about this over-publicized romance and split-up that the public doesn’t know? It’s difficult to believe, but District Judge Zenoff grants Eddie’s petition for a sealed transcript of the court action.
Eddie’s only witness is Nat Brandwynne, the orchestra leader. The divorce hearing lasts only twelve minutes. Eddie then waits in Judge Zenoff’s chambers for Liz. She arrives about fifteen minutes after the divorce has been granted. He is informed of her approach and goes to join her at the entrance to the chambers.
“You got it, honey?” Liz whispers.
Eddie smiles, “Yes . . . Mrs. Fisher.”
Then Eddie and Liz walk on through blazing newsreel and TV camera lights and flashbulbs to Clerk Reed’s office, and more movie lights and flashbulbs pop as they fill out marriage license number 394535.
The scene now shifts to the Temple Beth Sholom, a modernistic red-brick building, not yet a year old. It is the Jewish community center of Las Vegas as well as the town’s synagogue. The carved Hebrew letters on the entrance to the Temple read: “House of Worship” and “House of Gathering.” The Hebrew letters over the door of the synagogue itself, where the ceremony is to take place, read: “House of Study.” These are the three purposes of a Temple—Gathering, Study and Worship.
The marriage ceremony is to be private, with only members of the family and close friends permitted to attend. Eddie has invited about 12 people; Liz about 14. The press and the photographers are ushered into the Temple social hall—a gymnasium-type structure adjacent to the synagogue where the ceremony takes place. In fact, only a thin sliding door, more like a full-length screen, separates the synagogue from the social hall. When there is a large crowd, the sliding door is opened and the social hall is used as part of the synagogue. Almost every word spoken in the synagogue can be heard through the sliding door, if one is attentive. As a member of the press, I will stay in this social hall during the wedding ceremony.
“This wedding’s going to go off the way Liz wants it,” Eddie has said. “It’s her wedding. She doesn’t want to cheapen it or make a circus out of it. I want to make her happy.”
Eddie arrives smiling at the Temple well in advance of the ceremony. He is dressed in a dark blue suit and a black tie. He immediately goes into a room for a closed conference with Jack Entratter of the Sands Hotel (he is the newly-installed President of the Temple), Rabbi Bernard Cohen and Rabbi Max Nussbaum of Temple Beth Israel, Los Angeles, who has recently converted Miss Taylor to Judaism. Both Rabbis are to officiate at the wedding because, according to the state law, the marriage wouldn’t be legal if performed by a visiting Rabbi. In fact, Eddie Fisher has to be a member of the Temple Beth Sholom congregation, and he had joined the day before.
Liz Taylor arrives eighteen minutes late for her fourth wedding. The only mild excitement breaks out as she drives up to the Temple in a black Cadillac limousine, as not quite one hundred spectators, including some teenagers, press against the car and try to to tear at her dress for souvenirs.
The crowd is comparatively small because Eddie and Liz, despite the front-page publicity, don’t want to turn their wedding into the Hollywood-premiere category.
Two policemen keep the crowd in order. They seem to enjoy their work.
“This is easy,” one of them says. “Nothin’. You should have been around when Rita Hayworth married that other singer, Dick Haymes.”
“That was a real clambake,” the other policeman agrees. “I’d say it was Vegas biggest wedding.”
Liz and Eddie aren’t out to break any attendance records. Liz is strikingly beautiful in her specially created wedding gown over a moss green taffeta underslip with matching satin shoes. The gown was designed for her by Jean Louis of Columbia Pictures, who is making her wardrobe for her next picture, “Suddenly Last Summer.” Liz may wear the dress in the movie.
The wedding starts at sundown, at exactly 5:37 p.m. Eddie and all the male guests wear the traditional Yamulkas or skullcaps. Liz carries white lilies-of-the-valley and green orchids. She also wears a green veil.
Standing in the social hall next to the thin sliding door, I can hear the customary Temple music. Rabbi Cohen reads the orthodox chants. Rabbi Nussbaum, actually performing the double-ring ceremony and then delivering a sermon on the responsibilities of marriage, turns to the Old Testament, to the “Song of Solomon” reads: “For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the earth; birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. . . .”
Following is the traditional Jewish ceremony of exchanging rings and sipping the wine, with Eddie then breaking a goblet under his foot to remind everyone, even on this happy occasion, of life’s sorrows. Then Eddie kisses Liz, briefly but warmly. It is not a clinging kiss.
It is now 5:57 p.m., and at long last Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor are man and wife.
Immediately following the completion of the marriage rites, Mr. and Mrs. Fisher enter the Temple’s social hall to face the cameras of the photographers and the questions of the newspapermen. Eddie and Liz stand next to each other, smiling big.
“What do you want us to do?” Eddie asks.
“Kiss her,” a photographer shouts. “It’s legal now.”
Liz giggles and Eddie leans over to kiss her gently. Then Eddie takes out his handkerchief and wipes the lipstick from his lips.
Another photographer calls out, “You don’t have to get rid of the lipstick, Eddie.”
“He’s neat,” Liz explains, laughing. “Eddie is neat.”
While this scene is taking place, I see Judge David Zenoff, who granted Eddie his divorce. The Judge also attended the wedding ceremony and has been invited to the small wedding party later at the Hidden Well ranch, where Liz has been staying.
And I learn that the marriage certificate is signed by Rabbi Bernard Cohen, Temple Beth Sholom, and Jack Entratter, who is the President of the Temple.
After the photographers and most of the press have finished with Eddie and Liz, I kiss the bride and congratulate the groom.
“Liz, you look beautiful,” I say.
“I don’t know how I look,” Liz tells me, “but I know that I feel beautiful.”
“And what about you, Eddie?” I ask.
“I’ve never been happier.”
“Then it was worth everything you went through?”
“I’ve come to believe,” Eddie repeats, “if your heart says it’s right, do it.”
“The something old, something new, something borrowed tradition,” I ask Liz, “what was it with you?”
“Something old is this handkerchief,” Liz says. “an heirloom . . . in the family for years. Something new? This dress. Something borrowed? A green garter I borrowed from my mother. Something blue?” Liz pauses and then smiles up at Eddie. “Nothing. I broke with tradition. There’s nothing blue about this marriage.”
There is a small wedding party reception at the Hidden Well Ranch. A big wedding cake and champagne. It doesn’t take long because Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Fisher have to be on the 8:45 P.M. plane to L.A. From there to N.Y. and then to Europe. It’ll be a combination honeymoon and work. Liz will make the movie, “Suddenly Last Summer.” Eddie will sing at several theaters, including the Palladium. While in London, Eddie and Liz already have rented a house about half an hour’s drive from the city. It is the same house Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller occupied.
Later, Eddie and Liz will visit Israel. Eddie will not play a part in “Suddenly Last Summer,” but they do have plans to appear in a movie together.
There is one thing definite, very definite, about Eddie and Liz Fisher: They are in love.
I can hear you asking me: think the marriage has a chance? Will it last?”
How should I know! Friends of mine got married last month. They’re not in the movies. He sells insurance and she’s strictly a housewife. I couldn’t tell you if their marriage is going to last. So how can I tell you about a singer and a glamor queen? However, I do know this: I knew the engagement would last, because it turned into a wedding. And I’m sure Eddie and Liz are married, because I was there.
NEXT FOR LIZ: COLUMBIA’S “SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER, THEN “TWO FOR THE SEESAW” TO BE RELEASED BY UNITED ARTISTS.
It is a quote. PHOTOPLAY MAGAZINE AUGUST 1959