The Many Men Of Elizabeth Taylor
What comes to mind when you see the name Elizabeth Taylor? Is it Cleopatra? Her humanitarian work? Or is it her stature as the queen of divorce? In 1951, before she was 20 years old, this Hollywood icon ended her first marriage, but there were seven more weddings (but only six husbands) waiting for her. Whether they were fellow luminaries like Eddie Fisher and Richard Burton or politicians and businessmen whose names you wouldn't know, Elizabeth Taylor's husbands are almost more famous than she is.
A young Liz Taylor ties the knot with Conrad Hilton, Jr.
Taylor was only 18 years old when she married Conrad "Nicky" Hilton, Jr. in the first of what would be many marriages. The two tied the knot on May 6, 1950, at the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills at a massive wedding organized by MGM to herald the hot young couple. Although everything appeared to be coming up (very expensive) roses, Taylor realized within just a few weeks that she had made a huge mistake. Aside from the fact that the couple had little in common, Hilton had a drinking problem as well as a domestic violence problem. Eight months into their marriage, she was granted a divorce on January 29, 1951.
Michael Wilding, Liz's elderly beau
After her disastrous marriage to Nicky Hilton, the next in the succession of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands was understandably his polar opposite. On February 21, 1952, she married Michael Wilding, an English actor who was 20 years her senior. The two met while Taylor was filming Ivanhoe, and despite the age difference, he offered her a quieter, stabler relationship that she was more than ready for. Their wedding was the complete opposite of her first, too: Instead of a lavish affair, the two were wed in a small ceremony at Caxton Hall in London. They lasted long enough to have two kids together, but she slowly drifted away from Wilding, and after hearing that he had an affair with an exotic dancer, the two divorced in 1957.
Mike Todd, the producer who swept Liz off her feet
The same year that Taylor divorced her actually old man, producer Mike Todd put a ring on it in Acapulco, Mexico after a whirlwind romance. The media ate it up, and Todd ate them right back, putting Taylor in front of cameras as much as possible. Unfortunately, his greatest publicity stunt came on March 22, 1958, when he took his private plane for a spin to Los Angeles. The plane, named "Lucky Liz" in a tragic twist of irony, went down shortly thereafter, killing everyone onboard. Taylor was distraught after Todd's death, which led directly to her next marriage.
Eddie Fisher begins the homewrecker phase
Following the horrific death of Mike Todd, Taylor fell into the arms of Todd's close friend, Eddie Fisher. At the time, Fisher was a wildly popular singer who was also wildly married to America's sweetheart, Debbie Reynolds. When Reynolds found out about the affair, the scandal rocked Hollywood, and Taylor was branded a "homewrecker" in the press. Later in life, Taylor admitted that her relationship with and subsequent marriage to the singer was impelled by her grief, but believing herself to be madly in love at the time, the clandestine couple was married on May 12, 1959.
Richard Burton, a guy so nice Liz married him twice
Fisher was the first of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands whose relationship with her didn't begin on the up and up, but he certainly wasn't the last. After getting between Fisher and Reynolds, she continued the trend on the Italian set of 1963's Cleopatra, in which she played the Egyptian queen (it was the '60s, man) opposite renowned Shakespearean actor Richard Burton. Both married at the time, Taylor and Burton began an affair that sent ripples through the press, culminating with a paparazzi shot of the couple canoodling on a yacht that outed their secret romance and got them condemned by the Vatican for "erotic vagrancy."
Two years after their aquatic scandal, Taylor secured a divorce from Eddie Fisher, and on March 15, 1964, she married Burton in a private ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal. To put it mildly, Richard Burton was Elizabeth Taylor's lobster. The globetrotting couple starred in 11 films together and left fat stacks of cash scattered behind them like bread crumbs everywhere they went, spending millions on clothes, jewelry, art, and anything else they wanted. Sadly, these golden years were not to last. Although Taylor has said that Richard Burton was the one and only love of her life, the two divorced after 10 years of ecstatic highs and raging lows. That wasn't the end of the Liz and Dick story, but Taylor had no way of knowing that in 1974.
Richard Burton ... again
Following their divorce, Taylor fell into a deep depression. Without Burton, she was completely adrift. That's probably why the two reconciled in early 1975 before remarrying in Kasane, Botswana on October 10. The "marriage of the century" was short-lived, however, ending once again in divorce in July 1976. Despite not lasting even a year into their second stab at matrimony, Taylor made it known that no man would replace Richard Burton:
After Richard, the men in my life were just there to hold the coat, to open the door. All the men after Richard were really just company.
John Warner, Liz's lover in the Senate
The trend of Elizabeth Taylor's husbands violently diverging from one to the next continued with Senator John Warner. A Republican from Virginia, he couldn't have been more different from Liz's handsome movie star ex. After they married in December 1976, she threw herself into her husband's life, giving up acting to work for his election campaign. Nothing helps you get into office like a canvasser with the most beautiful eyes in the world, so it's no surprise that Warner won his senate seat, and perhaps even less surprising that Liz soon got bored with life in Washington. With no one she knew and nothing to do, she found solace in drugs, booze, and food. Even those comforts couldn't sustain her for long, so in November 1962, she once again found herself in divorce court.
Last but not least, Larry Fortensky
After six (or was it technically seven?) rocky marriages and a stint in the Betty Ford Clinic, Liz Taylor hadn't given up on life, and that's something to be admired. It might have had something to do with Larry Fortensky, a construction worker who swept the Hollywood icon off her feet in 1988 while they were both patients at the substance abuse treatment facility. The two dated longer than Taylor normally does, so it wasn't until December 6, 1991 that they married at Taylor's good friend Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. The wedding drew so much attention that one photographer parachuted into the ceremony to get the perfect shot, but he was scooped by Taylor herself, who sold the official wedding photos to People Magazine for a million dollars and used the money to jumpstart her AIDS foundation.
Unfortunately, the couple didn't last nearly as long Taylor's charitable legacy; they divorced in the fall of 1996. At 64 years old, the aging beauty apparently saw the writing on the wall and retreated from public life until her death in 2011, leaving behind a slew of classic performances, a jewelry collection to rival the English monarchy's, and a long line of husbands. We should all be so lucky.
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