Was there ever a Hollywood scandale more delectable than the one that occurred during the filming of Cleopatra? The setting: Rome, Italy, when la vida was dolce. The principals: a raven-haired, violet-eyed movie star who'd had a few too many brushes with death; a pockmarked lothario from a Welsh coal-mining hamlet who grew up to become his era's Hamlet; and, oh yeah, the actress's curly-haired hubby, her fourth. The husband, of course, was Eddie Fisher, a singer of schmaltzy songs who had been the adoring BFF of her previous husband, Mike Todd. Todd was a tough little fireplug of a Jew who won acclaim for producing Around the World in Eighty Days (a now all but unwatchable flick), and who went down in an airplane he had tempted the fates by naming the "Lucky Liz" in homage to his wife; in less complicated times the Fishers--Eddie and his missus, Singin' in the Rain soubrette Debbie Reynolds--and the Todds went out a lot a quatre. Poor Eddie sure got the fuzzy end of the lollipop (to quote Marilyn Monroe's line in Some Like It Hot). Best friend dies in plane crash, whereupon he dumps his wife and kids (Todd, named for his friend, and Carrie, who grows up to be Princess Leia) and marries the widow, only to be dumped by her when she collides with the love of her life, in the process of which they pretty much usher in the modern age of celebrity--with paparazzo camera shutters a-fluttering--as we know it. Meanwhile the sidelined dumpee fades away, a footnote to the Furious Love story that captivated the world, spending much of the rest of his life lost in a fog of depression and drug abuse.
Oh, well. At least today's obits aren't headlined "20th Century's Most Famous Cuckold Dies."
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