Eddie Fisher Lived ‘On the Edge’ : Hollywood: The singer-actor has some sobering reflections on his mistakes and substance abuse.
Thirty years ago, Eddie Fisher had the world at his feet. His voice made women swoon, and his good looks and charisma made him a natural for a movie and television career.
To top it off, he married Debbie Reynolds, Elizabeth Taylor and Connie Stevens, three undeniably gorgeous and popular actresses.
They didn’t come any bigger than Eddie Fisher.
It is strange then that Fisher seems to be remembered best for his failures: All three marriages ended in divorce, his well-publicized estrangements from his four children and a drug and alcohol addiction that victimized him for nearly 30 years.
With the recent release of “Postcards From the Edge,” a movie based on the semi-autobiographical novel by his daughter, Carrie, his failures are once again the topic of some dinner conversations.
Fresh from a monthlong stay at the Betty Ford Clinic, Fisher, 62, admits he made mistakes.
“I have four wonderful kids that I never was a father to, and it’s tough to face up to,” said Fisher, who was in Los Angeles recently to attend a birthday bash for Carrie.
“They’re all talented, wonderful kids. But to have people ask me how our relationship is or how I feel about not being a father, that really hurts,” he said.
Fisher blames his drug abuse for much of his problems. His descent began April 17, 1953. Just out of the service, he went to work for Paramount, and the grueling schedule made him lose his voice. He was sent to a company doctor.
“He gave me two shots, and all of a sudden I felt great and I could sing again. And I said, ‘This is for me for life,’ ” Fisher recalled.
From methamphetamine, commonly known as “speed,” Fisher graduated to cocaine, alcohol and eventually used prescription drugs to bring himself down from the other substances. At its worst, Fisher said, he was taking near-lethal doses just to get through the day.
His decision to get help came earlier this year in Orlando, Fla., where Fisher was performing at a benefit for children addicted to cocaine.
“I found myself a hypocrite. Here I was loaded on cocaine and doing a benefit performance for cocaine babies. I broke down,” he said.
Five months ago, he spent four weeks at the Betty Ford Clinic.
“I’m six months sober,” he said. “I’ve never felt better. I’m free and clear. Life is easier. I don’t have that pressure I put on myself.
“When you’re on drugs or alcohol you do a lot of strange things. You’re always competing with anything. Just being in show business is drug enough. We take things to heighten the experience or enhance it, and we really don’t understand the consequences.”
Fisher said the biggest regret he has is not spending time with his four children; Todd and Carrie, from his marriage to Reynolds, and Tricia and Joely from his marriage to Stevens.
But he readily shoulders most of the blame.
“I could say that Debbie kept me away. But I don’t want to say it even though it’s true,” he said. “I could have fought better and harder, but I was under the influence. Because of the drugs, they were my passion.”
Things are looking up for Fisher. Key to his recovery has been his girlfriend, Betty Young Lin, whom he met at her son’s wedding in 1988.
The two recently saw Reynolds perform at Harrah’s in Reno, Nev., and Fisher even visited his ex-wife backstage, which he said was quite a step for the long-feuding couple.
While in Los Angeles, Fisher took the opportunity to meet with movie executives to discuss a movie about his life. Actor Tony Danza has been approached to play the lead role.
“It’s a long way from completion, but I would like to see it done,” Fisher said. “I’ve had an interesting life. It has a happy ending, but there are a lot of sad parts.
“There’s a great story about how to screw up a career and still live happily ever after,” Fisher said.
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