Pop singer and occasional classic movie actor Eddie Fisher has passed away at the age of 82.
Perhaps best known today as the father of Star Wars actress and snark-tastic writer Carrie Fisher and television stalwart Joely Fisher, Eddie Fisher was one of the most popular singers of the 1950s. His marriage to Debbie Reynolds was one of the most celebrated unions in Hollywood history–they were considered America’s sweethearts, a paragon of marital bliss … until 1959, when Fisher left Reynolds for a recently-widowed Elizabeth Taylor, a scandal the likes of which Hollywood had rarely seen. Carrie Fisher once referred to the breakup of her parents’ marriage as the original Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie-esque triangle, and it’s a fitting comparison. Much like Aniston today, Reynolds became even more popular in the wake of her “abandonment.” But unlike Pitt’s continued influence and success, Fisher’s career never fully recovered from the scandal.
It’s somewhat sad that Fisher will likely always be remembered more for his personal trials than his talents. He was, all things considered, an engaging singer and musical performer.
Acting-wise, Fisher’s career never really took off. He only appeared in two major roles on the big screen, playing opposite one of his wives in each of them.
His role in 1956’s Bundle of Joy, the musical remake of the marvelous 1939 Ginger Rogers vehicle Bachelor Mother, is perhaps his most charming, though somewhat stilted. Fisher takes over David Niven’s role in the original, playing the wealthy heir who falls for Reynolds’ suddenly-maternal shop clerk. The film is a trifle, with Reynolds giving a typically energetic and adorable performance and Fisher looking uncomfortable and slightly terrified at times. But he comes alive in his musical numbers, and in these, it’s easy to see his initial appeal to mid-century moviegoers.
A bit of trivia: while making the film, Reynolds was pregnant with Carrie, the couple’s first child.
His other acting performance of note, in 1960’s BUtterfield 8, finds Fisher playing opposite new wife Taylor in the role of Steve, the piano-playing childhood friend of Taylor’s Gloria, a promiscuous, doomed young woman engaging in multiple love affairs (essentially, a call girl, though the Code required this title be altered to “model”). The role provides Fisher the chance to explore dramatic talents, but he is merely competent in the role and ultimately received harsh criticism for his performance.
Fisher’s musical career, however, endured through the 1960s, and he is still remembered today for some of his great performances, including a fantastic cover of “Sunrise, Sunset” from Fiddler on the Roof, a song for which Fisher introduced the first commercial recording.
On Twitter today, Carrie Fisher briefly eulogized her father: “My Puff Daddy passed away Wednesday night due to complications following his hip surgery. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch.”