Edwin Jack Fisher (born August 10, 1928) is an American singer and entertainer. His divorce from his first wife, Debbie Reynolds, to marry his best friend's widow, Elizabeth Taylor, garnered unwelcome publicity at the time.
Fisher, fourth of seven children, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Russian-born Jewish immigrants Kate (n?e Winokur) and Joseph Fisher. His father's surname was originally Tisch or Fisch, but was anglicised to Fisher upon entry into the United States. To his family, Fisher was always called "Sonny Boy", a nickname derived from the song of the same name in Al Jolson's film The Singing Fool (1928).
Fisher attended Thomas Junior High School, South Philadelphia High School, and Simon Gratz High School. It was known at an early age that he had talent as a vocalist and he started singing in numerous amateur contests, which he usually won. He made his radio debut on WFIL, a local Philadelphia radio station. He also performed on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, a popular radio show which later moved to TV. Because he became a local star, Fisher dropped out of high school in the middle of his senior year to pursue his career.
By 1946, Fisher was crooning with the bands of Buddy Morrow and Charlie Ventura. He was heard in 1949 by Eddie Cantor at Grossinger's Resort in the Borscht Belt. After performing on Cantor's radio show he was an instant hit and gained nationwide exposure. He then signed with RCA Victor.
Fisher was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1951, sent to Texas for basic training, and served a year in Korea. From 1952 to 1953, he was the official vocal soloist for The United States Army Band (Pershing's Own) and a tenor section member in the United States Army Band Chorus (an element of Pershing's Own) assigned at Fort Myer in the Washington, D.C. Military District. The photos of him in uniform during his time in the service did not hurt his civilian career. After his discharge, he became even more popular singing in top nightclubs. He also had a variety television series, Coke Time with Eddie Fisher (NBC) (1953-1957), appeared on Perry Como's show, The Gisele MacKenzie Show, The Chesterfield Supper Club and The George Gobel Show, and starred in another series, The Eddie Fisher Show (NBC) (1957-1959, alternating with Gobel's series).
A pre-Rock and Roll vocalist, Fisher's strong and melodious tenor made him a teen idol and one of the most popular singers of the early 1950s. He had seventeen songs in the Top 10 on the music charts between 1950 and 1956 and thirty-five in the Top 40.
In 1956, Fisher costarred with then-wife Debbie Reynolds in the musical comedy Bundle of Joy. He played a serious role in the 1960 drama Butterfield 8 with second wife Elizabeth Taylor. His best friend was showman and producer Mike Todd, who died in a plane crash in 1958. Fisher's affair and subsequent marriage to Taylor, Todd's widow, caused a show business scandal because he and Reynolds had a very public divorce. It was because of the unfavorable publicity surrounding the affair and divorce that NBC cancelled Fisher's television series in March 1959.
In 1960, he was dropped by RCA Victor and briefly recorded on his own label, Ramrod Records. He later recorded for Dot Records. During this time, he had the first commercial recording of "Sunrise, Sunset" from Fiddler on the Roof. This technically counts as the biggest standard Fisher can claim credit for introducing, although it is rarely associated with him. He also recorded the album Eddie Fisher Today which showed that he had more depth than his singles from earlier years had shown. The Dot contract was not successful in record sales terms, and he returned to RCA Victor and had a minor single hit in 1966 with the song "Games That Lovers Play" with Nelson Riddle, which became the title of his best selling album. During the time Fisher was the most popular singer in America, in the mid 1950s, singles, rather than albums, were the primary recording medium. His last album for RCA was an Al Jolson tribute, You Ain't Heard Nothin' Yet. Eddie Fisher's last album was recorded around 1984 on the Bainbridge record label. Fisher tried to stop the album from being released, but it turned up as After All. The album was produced by William J. O'Malley and arranged by Angelo DiPippo.
Fisher has performed in top concert halls all over the United States and headlined in major Las Vegas showrooms. He has headlined at the Palace Theater in New York City as well as London's Palladium.
Fisher has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for Recording, at 6241 Hollywood Boulevard, and one for TV, at 1724 Vine Street.
Fisher has had five wives: actress Debbie Reynolds (married 1955-divorced 1959), actress Elizabeth Taylor (married 1959-divorced 1964), actress Connie Stevens (married 1967-divorced 1969), Terry Richard (married 1975- divorced 1976) and Betty Lin (married 1993). Betty Lin died on April 15, 2001. Fisher is the father of two children by Reynolds, actress Carrie Fisher and Todd Fisher, and the father of two children by Stevens, actress Joely Fisher and actress Tricia Leigh Fisher.
In 1981, Fisher wrote an autobiography, Eddie: My Life, My Loves (ISBN 0-06-014907-8). He wrote another autobiography in 1999 titled Been There, Done That (ISBN 0-312-20972-X). The later book devotes little space to Fisher's singing career, but recycled the material of his first book and added many new sexual details that were too strong to publish before. His daughter Carrie declared, upon publication: "That's it. I'm having my DNA fumigated."
When interviewed, Debbie Reynolds will characteristically say that she could understand being dumped "for the world's most beautiful woman (Taylor)", previously a close friend. Taylor and Reynolds later resumed their friendship, and mocked Fisher in their TV movie These Old Broads, wherein their characters ridiculed the ex-husband they shared, named "Freddie."