The 8 Marriages and 7 Husbands of Elizabeth Taylor
|King and Queen of Wands
One of the side effects of living as Elizabeth Taylor for a week (other than really sore eyes from too much mascara and eye-liner) was an unhealthy interest in her many husbands. And bourbon.
Why not, suggested a friend, write about her husbands and relate them to various Tarot court cards? Why not, indeed.
Elizabeth Taylor’s love life is the stuff of legend – death, divorce, adultery – all seen through the lens of a newly born media merry-go-round.
Mine is exactly the same – apart from the death, adultery and celebrity, of course.
There’s a lot to get through – shall we just dive in?
Husband no: 1
As soon as she hit 18, Elizabeth started kicking at the traces that had held her so firmly in place as a child and adolescent – the Studio and her mother.
|Two Knight of Wands = divorce
Four weeks after meeting Hilton heir Conrad ‘Nicky’ Hilton, she ran up the aisle at a star-studded wedding and immediately slapped straight into marital trouble.
Apparently Hilton was unimpressed with his young and inexperienced bride and headed off to the gambling tables and bar – on their honeymoon. My mother, Juno, font of all knowledge, says that he was also a bit handy with his fists. 200 days after they were wed, the marriage was over.
Court Card: Has to be the impetuous Knight of Wands – all into the thrill of the chase, but not mature enough to sustain a relationship and quickly casts around for something new and thrilling to capture his attention. If the Court is unhealthy (in a reversed position), the assertiveness of the Wands will manifest as naked aggression.
Husband no: 2
About a year after her first divorce, the determined Ms Taylor set her hat at charming English gentleman actor, Michael Wilding. He was 20 years older than Taylor and although he relocated to Hollywood, his career there never really took off – while Elizabeth’s career was blooming. She became frustrated with him and the marriage petered out after 5 years. Which isn’t bad going at all, really.
|Knight of Wands and King of Cups
Court Card: I think that Mr Wilding was a gentlemanly King of Cups – caring and sensitive, he was the complete opposite of Hilton. But that gentle nature quickly became boring to the young Elizabeth – she wanted a challenge, a fight and PASSION and this leads us to….
After the gentlemanly Wilding, Elizabeth’s head was turned by actor Mike Todd. From what I’ve seen they seemed beautifully matched. He was an older firebrand of a man and she loved the excitement, the passion and, heck, they seemed to have a wonderful time in each other’s company.
|King and Queen of Wands
They seemed deliriously happy. And then Todd was killed in a plane crash. This was her only marriage not to end in divorce. Taylor later called him one of the three loves of her life (the other two being Burton and jewellery).
She was absolutely crushed after his death – her friends were on suicide watch – but she still forced herself to return to work on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof weeks after his death.
Court Card: I think that Todd was a King of Wands – mature, successful, fiery, passionate and with an enormous dollop of showmanship – he was the perfect foil for her.
Husband no 4:
Crazed with grief, Elizabeth sought out pop idol Eddie Fisher to lean upon. Fisher had been Todd’s best friend and he and his wife, the actress Debbie Reynolds, had witnessed Taylor and Todd’s wedding. Years later Taylor said that she was desperate to keep something of Todd’s alive and she soon fell in passionately love with Fisher.
|Queen of Wands Rx and Knight of Cups
Handily named ‘Fisher’
It was a terrible scandal. Reynolds and Taylor had been friends and the whole relationship implosion took place in the glare of publicity. The public turned on Taylor, turning her from the grieving widow (Queen of Swords) to the callous home-wrecker (Queen of Wands rx).
Within a year of Todd’s death, she was married to Fisher and almost immediately regretting her actions.
By all accounts (even her own) she treated Fisher very badly and his humiliation was complete when Elizabeth took the role of Cleopatra and reconnected with Richard Burton……
Court Card – Fisher was a wannabe Mike Todd. Outwardly he aped his idol and this is what drew Elizabeth to him. But inside, he wasn’t anything like Mike Todd – a romantic crooner that could not cope with, nor contain Ms Taylor – a Knight of Cups that was quickly fried and utterly burned out by this fiery and distraught Queen.
Husband no 5
Richard Burton x 2
So, there she was, signed up for this stunning turkey of a movie and Richard Burton comes on set with a hangover. They had met before, but Taylor had not succumbed to the Welshman’s charms. But this time it was different…. and within five days of them meeting again on set, they were at it like knives.
|King and Queen of Wands.
Taylor most helpfully in leopard-print 😀
There is a story that Burton turned up at a dinner party thrown by the Fishers and demanded that Taylor come over and ‘stick her tongue down his throat’. Which she did. In front of her husband and her dinner guests. Bad Elizabeth!!! The following day she tried to commit suicide – racked with the killer combination of guilt and overwhelming desire. Well, it’s how the story goes. Whether she really meant it or not is neither here nor there – it was a suitably theatrical bout of remorse.
Burton and Taylor became THE celebrity couple – DickLiz……or Burtaylor, if you will 😀
The media storm was colossal – they were both married to other people! Still filming Cleopatra, there was a moment when 7,000 Italians were to surround the ‘chariot’ of Cleopatra, exalting her name. The studio were terrified – the Pope had just denounced her in the Vatican by name – and they were expecting a LOT of trouble when she appeared on set. But something had changed in the world. As Cleopatra was pulled through the crowds, they went mad – calling Taylor’s name and CHEERING.
In Tarot terms, The Lovers had out-trumped the Pope!
|‘I don’t remember much about Cleopatra.
There was a lot going on.’
Of course, she divorced Fisher and married Burton. They believed in living for the now and spent their money like it was going out of fashion – jewels, yachts….but the tempestuous passionate relationship began to fizzle out.
The pair starred in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Possibly her finest performance, imo. Maybe a little of that decaying personal relationship seeped into the cracks of Martha and George.
Anyhoo – they divorced….
….. and then they remarried a year later! But it was not to last – the relationship was well and truly over a scant year later. But they remained in contact and Elizabeth said in a documentary that Burton had ranted to his brother: That bloody woman! I’ll probably end up marrying her again because I still love her.’ Which must have made Burton’s widow feel FABULOUS.
Court Card: Burton was a classically-trained actor and hugely respected for his stage work. In Hollywood, he was an exotic creature. By turns assertive and aggressive, he was Mike Todd with the amp turned up to 11. Together they were were vicious, passionate, generous, magnetic, spendthrifts….. he was a King of Wands with huge handfuls of Knight of Wands energy stuffed into his trouser pockets.
Husband no 6:
Senator John Warner
Taylor married Senator Warner in 1976 and marks the period where she became an activist in many causes. It also marked the period of her weight fluctuations. Taylor was determined to stay at home on the ranch and be a good Senator’s wife. But she was lonely and bored. But the marriage held together until the early 1980s.
|Queen of Wands and King of Pentacles
The money’s nice, but it’s boooooring!
Court Card: Another vacillation away from the Wands energy that she found so irresistible and an attempt to Go Straight and take up with the King of Pentacles. Life with the Senator was too dull, too ordinary for Liz. And now there was no Richard Burton on the horizon any more….
Husband no 7
Taylor had not enjoyed good health throughout her life and by the time she split from Warner, she was dependent on prescription drugs and the booze. Determined to clean up, she headed off to The Betty Ford Clinic….. and came out with fellow recoverer and sometime construction worker Larry Fortensky. He was 20 years her junior and sported an incredibly bouffant mullet hairdo that rivalled Liz’s own SPECTACULAR 1980s hair. Good on you, Liz! And do you know, their marriage lasted for 8 years – not always a happy union, but again, a respectable time for a marriage, in Hollywood. They split – he returned to construction work with a £1.3m payoff and a great set of stories for the bar, no doubt.
|Queen of Wands and Knight of Pentacles
Still looking hot, Liz!
Court Card: I am least impressed with Fortensky. He was, as we say in Scotland, punching well above his weight when he pulled Liz Taylor (i.e. she was out of his league!) and whether she thought that a dose of down-to-earth practicality with a hands-on manual worker was what she needed (but on her own terms, not as Mrs Senator Warner) and that she would find it in Fortensky, I don’t know. But this Knight of Pentacles failed to engage with her on any significant level and he was consigned to history.
And that is it.
The eight marriages and seven husbands of Elizabeth Taylor.
What I learned from Elizabeth Taylor’s love life: that when she fell in love she fell hard and fast and was inevitably disappointed when the ‘fire’ died down. That she tended to marry just about everyone she slept with. She was an old-fashioned gal really.
Even Debbie Reynolds forgave her in the end. Katie Price, take note.
How do you see her husbands (in their role as husbands – not as movie stars, fathers, senators or manual labourers)?