In the 1950s, Eddie Fisher made himself a walking punchline for the rest of his life by dumping America’s sweetheart, Debbie Reynolds, in favor of the vamp next door, Elizabeth Taylor, as any sensible person would do.
He was basically the original Brad Pitt.
Li’l Debbie was furious, but years later, she and Liz eventually bonded over a raging dislike for Eddie, who came to represent the worst aspects of oily, skirt-chasing men.
(And daughter Carrie joined in on the abuse, too.)
But I liked him!
Sometime in the nebulous ’80s, his then-girlfriend (a woman named Jeannie Gianas) dragged Eddie to a birthday party of mine at El Morocco, where he gamely took the ramshackle stage to belt out one of his classics: “Oh, Mein Papa.”
He was fabulous and totally made the party into an event, elevating a faded boite of zebra-printed memories into a sizzling jazz club right out of the Vegas strip. My kvelling parents gave me extra points for this for many years afterward.
Eddie even took a moment to sign a copy of his book My Life, My Loves, “To Mike, My new hero.”
Eddie represented old-time showbiz at its most extreme. With his shellacked hair and wandering eye, he was Al Jolson meets Buddy Love (the Jerry Lewis character from The Nutty Professor), and he was always riveting.