Eddie Fisher (singer)

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Eddie Fisher
Eddie Fisher - still.JPG
c. 1960
Background information
Birth name Edwin Jack Tisch
Born (1928-08-10)August 10, 1928
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died September 22, 2010(2010-09-22) (aged 82)
Berkeley, California, U.S.
Genres Traditional pop
Occupation(s) Singer, actor, entertainer
Years active 1948–1987
Labels RCA Victor, Ramrod, Dot

Edwin Jack "Eddie" Fisher (August 10, 1928 – September 22, 2010) was an American entertainer. He was the most successful pop singles artist of the first half of the 1950s,[1] selling millions of records and hosting his own TV show.

Fisher left his first wife, actress Debbie Reynolds, to marry Reynolds' best friend, actress Elizabeth Taylor, when Taylor's husband, film producer Mike Todd, died. This event garnered scandalous and unwelcome publicity for Fisher. He later married Connie Stevens. Fisher is the father of actresses Carrie Fisher (with Reynolds), Joely Fisher (with Stevens), and Tricia Leigh Fisher (with Stevens).

Early life[edit]

Fisher, fourth of seven children, was born in Philadelphia, the son of Russian-born Jewish immigrants Gitte (later Katherine "Katie") (née Winokur) and Joseph Tisch.[2][3] His father's surname was originally Tisch, but was changed by the time of the 1940 Census.[4] 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).[5]

Fisher attended Thomas Junior High School,[6] 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,[6] 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.[7]

Career[edit]

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. Cantor's so-called discovery of Fisher was later described as a totally contrived, "manipulated' arrangement by Milton Blackstone, Grossinger's publicity director.[8] 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. During his active duty period, he also made occasional guest television appearances, in uniform, introduced as "PFC Eddie Fisher". 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 The Perry Como Show, Club Oasis, The Martha Raye 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 17 songs in the Top 10 on the music charts between 1950 and 1956 and 35 in the Top 40.

In 1956, Fisher costarred with then-wife Debbie Reynolds in the musical comedy Bundle of Joy. He played a dramatic 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. Because of the unfavorable publicity surrounding the affair and divorce, NBC canceled Fisher's television series in March 1959.[citation needed]

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 albums Eddie Fisher Today and Young and Foolish (both 1965). 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. When Fisher was at the height of his popularity, 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. In 1983 he attempted a comeback tour but this was not a success. Eddie Fisher's last released 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. DiPippo worked with Eddie countless hours to better his vocals but it became useless. His final recordings (never released) were made in 1995 with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. According to arranger-conductor Vincent Falcone in his 2005 autobiography, Frankly: Just Between Us, these tracks were "...the best singing of his life." Fisher performed in top concert halls all over the United States and headlined in major Las Vegas showrooms. He headlined at the Palace Theater in New York City as well as London's Palladium.

Fisher created interest as a pop culture icon. Betty Johnson's "I Want Eddie Fisher For Christmas", containing references to a number of hit songs, reached #28 in the Music Vendor national survey during an 11 week chart run in late 1954.

Fisher has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for recording, at 6241 Hollywood Boulevard, and one for television, at 1724 Vine Street.

Personal life[edit]

Fisher had five marriages and four children:

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 said 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".

Death[edit]

Fisher suffered from knee, back, hearing, and eyesight problems in his later years, the last of which were worsened by a botched cataract removal operation, and so he rarely appeared in public. According to friends, he remained mentally vigorous and kept himself busy following news and politics, and singing his old songs while friend George Michalski played the piano. Michalski had worked on several occasions over the years to help Fisher get his name back on the music charts. He said "The '60s passed Eddie by; he missed that entire era of music. I'd play a Beatles song like Something for him and he'd think I wrote it."

Fisher broke his hip on September 9, 2010, and died 13 days later on September 22, 2010 at his home in Berkeley, California, from complications from hip surgery. He was 82 years old.[9]

After his death, he was cremated and his ashes were buried alongside the grave of his wife, Betty (who died on April 15, 2001), at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park in Colma, California.[10]

His second wife, Elizabeth Taylor, died six months and one day after Fisher, on March 23, 2011.[11]

Discography[edit]

Hit songs[edit]

Year Single Chart positions
US US
AC
UK[12]
1948 "You Can't Be True, Dear"(with Marlin Sisters) 19
1950 "Thinking of You" 5
1951 "Bring Back the Thrill" 14
"Unless" 17
"I'll Hold You In My Heart" 18
"Turn Back the Hands of Time" 8
"Any Time" 2
1952 "Tell Me Why" 4
"Trust In Me" 25
"Forgive Me" 7
"That's the Chance You Take" 10
"I'm Yours" 3
"Just a Little Lovin'" 20
"Maybe"(with Perry Como) 3
"Watermelon Weather"(with Perry Como) 19
"I Remember When" 29
"Wish You Were Here" 1 8
"The Hand of Fate" 24
"Lady of Spain" 6
"Outside of Heaven" 8 1
"Everything I Have Is Yours" 23 8
"Christmas Day" 22
1953 "You're All I Want for Christmas" 22
"Even Now" 7
"Downhearted" 5 3
"How Do You Speak to an Angel?" 14
"I'm Walking Behind You" 1 1
"Just Another Polka" 24
"With These Hands" 7
"Many Times" 4
"Just to Be with You" 18
"Oh! My Pa-Pa" 1 9
1954 "A Girl, a Girl" 6
"Anema E Core" 14
"Green Years" 8
"My Friend" 15
"The Little Shoemaker"(with Hugo Winterhalter) 9
"The Magic Tango"(with Hugo Winterhalter) 22
"Heaven Was Never Like This" 21
"I Need You Now" 1 13
"Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep)" 5
"Fanny" 29
1955 "A Man Chases a Girl" 16
"(I'm Always Hearing) Wedding Bells" 20 5
"Heart" 6
"Song of the Dreamer" 11
"Don't Stay Away Too Long" flip
"Magic Fingers" 52
"I Wanna Go Where You Go" 75
"Dungaree Doll" 7
"Everybody's Got a Home But Me" 20
1956 "Without You" 41
"No Other One" 65
"On the Street Where You Live" 18
"Sweet Heartaches" 42
"O My Maria" 80
"Cindy, Oh Cindy" 10 5
1957 "Some Day Soon" 94
"Tonight My Heart Will Be Crying" 96
"Sunshine Girl" 94
1961 "Tonight" 44 12
1962 "Arrivederci Roma" 112
1965 "Sunrise, Sunset" 119 22
"Young and Foolish" 25
1966 "Games That Lovers Play" 45 2
1967 "People Like You" 97 4
"Now I Know" 131 23

Albums[edit]

  • Eddie Fisher Sings (10-inch album) (RCA Victor 1952)
  • I'm In The Mood For Love (RCA Victor 1952/55)
  • Christmas With Eddie Fisher (10-inch album) (RCA Victor 1952)
  • Irving Berlin Favorites (10-inch album) (RCA Victor 1954)Grossinger'sz
  • May I Sing To You? (RCA Victor 1954/55)
  • I Love You (RCA Victor 1955)
  • Academy Award Winners (RCA Victor 1955)
  • Bundle Of Joy (film soundtrack) (RCA Victor 1956)
  • As Long As There's Music (RCA Victor 1958)
  • Scent Of Mystery (film soundtrack) (Ramrod 1960)
  • Eddie Fisher At The Winter Garden (Ramrod 1963)
  • Eddie Fisher Today! (Dot 1965)
  • When I Was Young (Dot 1965) (re-recordings of his RCA Victor hits)
  • Mary Christmas (Dot 1965)
  • Games That Lovers Play (RCA Victor 1966)
  • People Like You (RCA Victor 1967)
  • You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet (RCA Victor 1968)
  • After All (Bainbridge Records 1984)

Compilations[edit]

  • Thinking of You (RCA Victor 1957)
  • Eddie Fisher's Greatest Hits (RCA Victor 1962)
  • The Very Best of Eddie Fisher (MCA 1988)
  • All Time Greatest Hits Vol.1 (RCA 1990)
  • Eddie Fisher – Greatest Hits (RCA 2001)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top 40 Pop Singles 12th Edition
  2. ^ Genealogy.com – Ancestry of Carrie Fisher
  3. ^ 'Jewish Sinatra' tells all
  4. ^ Fisher, Eddie; Fisher, David (September 1999). Been There, Done That. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 3. ISBN 0-312-20972-X. 
  5. ^ Been There, Done That, p. 2.
  6. ^ a b Been There, Done That, p. 11.
  7. ^ Been There, Done That, p. 14.
  8. ^ Kanfer, Stefan (1989). A summer world : the attempt to build a Jewish Eden in the Catskills from the days of the ghetto to the rise and decline of the Borscht Belt (1st ed. ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. pp. 205–209. ISBN 978-0374271800. 
  9. ^ "Eddie Fisher, Pop Singer, Dies at 82", The New York Times 
  10. ^ Eddie Fisher at Find a Grave
  11. ^ Sheila Marikar (March 23, 2011). "Hollywood Icon Elizabeth Taylor Dies at 79". ABC News. Retrieved March 23, 2011. 
  12. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 201. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Husband of Elizabeth Taylor
Preceded by
Mike Todd
Husband of Elizabeth Taylor
(by order of marriage)

1959–1964
Succeeded by
Richard Burton