Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor ‘Held Each Other and Sobbed’ When Reunited on 9/11
Despite their infamous love triangle with Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and Elizabeth Taylor’s friendship was strong. The stars didn’t speak for years while Taylor was married to Reynolds’ ex, but once they reconciled, they were friends for life. Their strong bond was made clear during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City, when Taylor made sure Reynolds was safe.
Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds were both in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001
Todd Fisher’s 2018 memoir My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie detailed his mother’s 9/11 experience. He and the Singin’ in the Rain star were in NYC trying to set up a museum for Reynolds’ Hollywood memorabilia collection. Todd had to go back to Los Angeles briefly, leaving Reynolds on her own. She and Taylor both attended Michael Jackson’s concert celebrating the 30th anniversary of his solo career on Sept. 10, although separately.
The next morning, Reynolds woke up in her hotel room to an “acrid” smell, which was coming from the wreckage of the Twin Towers.
Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher were panicked trying to get in touch with Debbie Reynolds on 9/11
Reynolds was alone in her hotel room for a while that morning, until Taylor learned that she was alone and immediately had her assistant call her and send her a car. Carrie Fisher and Todd had no idea that Taylor had come to Reynolds’ aid, however, so they were frantically trying to get a hold of their mother from L.A.
“Every American knows exactly where they were and what they were doing on that awful morning,” Todd wrote in My Girls. “What Carrie and I were doing was trying desperately to find our mother in a city under attack three thousand miles away. When Mom finally got through to us and assured us that she was safe with Elizabeth, we were overwhelmed with relief and endless gratitude to Elizabeth.”
Elizabeth Taylor refused to let Debbie Reynolds be alone in NYC
According to Todd, Taylor’s assistant, Tim Mendelson, is the one who got Reynolds on the phone and told her about the car her friend was sending.
“Debbie,” he said, “Elizabeth heard that you were here alone, and she’d like you to come stay with us at the Pierre.”
Reynolds was awash with relief by the call, and Todd explained what happened next in the memoir:
“It was like someone—not just someone, but Elizabeth Taylor—had thrown Mom a life jacket,” he wrote. “She quickly packed and hurried into the car Elizabeth sent for her, and she and Elizabeth held each other and sobbed the instant she stepped into Elizabeth’s suite. The two of them, along with Elizabeth’s assistant, her doctor, her masseur, and her butler, gathered in front of the TV, unable to turn away from the unfolding horror and doing their best to comfort one another through the unreal reality.”
The long, storied history between Reynolds and Taylor is what made their friendship so strong. They had overcome a public scandal that caused a lot of heartbreak and built a relationship on mutual respect. They remained so close throughout the rest of their lives, that when Taylor died in 2011, she left some of her precious jewelry to Reynolds. Reynolds died on Dec. 28, 2016, the day after Carrie’s death.