- Associated Press - Friday, September 24, 2010

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Pop singer Eddie Fisher gained fame crooning love songs like “I’m Yours” and “Thinking of You” to teenage girls in the early 1950s. But his life was overshadowed by drug use, gambling and failed marriages to actresses Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor.

Fisher passed away Wednesday night at his home in Berkeley of complications from hip surgery, his daughter, Tricia Leigh Fisher of Los Angeles, told The Associated Press. He was 82.

“Late last evening the world lost a true America icon,” Fisher’s family said in a statement released by publicist British Reece. “One of the greatest voices of the century passed away. He was an extraordinary talent and a true mensch.”

The death was first reported by Hollywood website deadline.com.


In the early 50s, Fisher sold millions of records with 32 hit songs including “Any Time,” “Oh, My Pa-pa,” “Wish You Were Here,” “Lady of Spain” and “Count Your Blessings.”

His fame was enhanced by his 1955 marriage to movie darling Debbie Reynolds _ they were touted as “America’s favorite couple” _ and the birth of two children.

Their daughter Carrie Fisher became a film star herself in the first three “Star Wars” films as Princess Leia, and later as a best-selling author of “Postcards From the Edge” and other books.

Carrie Fisher spent most of 2008 on the road with her autobiographical show “Wishful Drinking.” In an interview with The Associated Press, she told of singing with her father on stage in San Jose. Eddie Fisher was by then in a wheelchair and living in San Francisco.

“He was loved & will be missed by his four children as well as his six grandchildren,” Carrie Fischer said on her Twitter account, which the website says has been verified as belonging to the actress.

When Eddie Fisher’s best friend, producer Mike Todd, was killed in a 1958 plane crash, Fisher comforted the widow, Elizabeth Taylor. Amid sensationalist headlines, Fisher divorced Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959.

The Fisher-Taylor marriage lasted only five years. She fell in love with co-star Richard Burton during the Rome filming of “Cleopatra,” divorced Fisher and married Burton in one of the great entertainment world scandals of the 20th century.

Fisher’s career never recovered from the notoriety. He married actress Connie Stevens, and they had two daughters. Another divorce followed. He married twice more.

Edwin Jack Fisher was born Aug. 10, 1928, in Philadelphia, one of seven children of a Jewish grocer. At 15 he was singing on Philadelphia radio.

After moving to New York, Fisher was adopted as a protege by comedian Eddie Cantor, who helped the young singer become a star in radio, television and records.

Fisher’s romantic messages resonated with young girls in the pre-Elvis period. Publicist-manager Milton Blackstone helped the publicity by hiring girls to scream and swoon at Fisher’s appearances.

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