Thursday


Larry Fortensky and Elizabeth Taylor: The hollywood marriage that was made in hell


Larry Fortensky and Elizabeth Taylor

He rarely comes out of the shabby two-bedroom bungalow he rents with his sister in the small town of Menifee, California, and when he does, hardly anyone notices.

Tall and greying, Larry Fortensky walks with a stick after an accident in 1999 and at 62 looks a decade older than his years. He never talks about his past, has forbidden his sister to speak to pressmen and has previously turned down millions for kiss and tell stories.

But today no one bothers Larry Fortensky or is interested in his story, which suits him fine. Only he knows about the days when he was married to the Queen of Hollywood, lived in a $10 million Bel Air mansion and drove a Rolls-Royce.

Those were the days when he was Elizabeth Taylor's seventh and last husband — and the only one to divorce her. "I really loved her," he once told a friend. "But no one could cope with that lifestyle."  

When they met, he was an alcoholic truck driver, a trouble-maker who had had numerous brushes with the law. But in the summer of 1988 they were just Liz and Larry to people who had admitted serious addiction problems.  
 
As patients in the luxurious Betty Ford Drug and Alcohol Clinic in Los Angeles, Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky helped each other face the hellish rituals of "drying out."  And in the process they fell in love.

It was a story which could have been straight out of a vintage Hollywood "weepy." Larry's $4,000 stay in the clinic was paid for by his truckers' union, a last attempt to sober him up.

Elizabeth Taylor had been there before, weaning herself off a highly-addictive painkiller prescribed for the chronic back pain she had suffered since childhood after falling from a horse when filming National Velvet.  
 
Now at 57 she was back again and Larry Fortensky, tough, handsome and 20 years her junior, was in her therapy group. During the "encounter" sessions she heard how as a boy growing up in the blue-collar town of Stanton, California, he had been on the road to alcoholism since he was a teenager.

He told of squandering his wages on all-night benders, of bar-room fights with pool-cues, of two marriages killed by his drinking. "Coming here," he said, "is the last stop at the end of the line."
               
Elizabeth Taylor was stunned by the bleak honesty of a man who knew he would have no second chance. Soon they were spending their spare time together. Soon they found themselves falling in love.

The first Hollywood knew about the romance was a fuzzy picture in a tabloid magazine of Elizabeth being wheeled in the grounds of the Betty Ford Clinic by an unknown man with long blond hair.

One patient told the press: "Elizabeth knows he is light years away from her world but that doesn't matter. He is all man, solid, masculine and handsome. He is putting his life in order and she admires it tremendously."

Two months after leaving the clinic Larry moved into Elizabeth Taylor's mansion with its priceless art collection and its garages full of Rolls-Royces, Mercedes, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins.

In the wardrobes hung a couturier collection of clothes worth $2 million ... but Larry Fortensky arrived with only two shirts and a couple of paperback books — his entire worldly possessions.

Elizabeth Taylor remedied that. Larry was soon the proud owner of a dozen designer suits and a $20,000 Pontiac Sunbird.He was given pronunciation lessons and shown how to use cutlery at banquets. It was, said the gossips, My Fair Lady in reverse!

But would it last? That was the question that intrigued Hollywood as the couple, obviously deeply in love, were seen at elegant parties and premieres.
 
It was a major health crisis which resulted in Larry becoming Liz Taylor's seventh husband. In May, 1990, she was struck down by viral pneumonia and fought for her life in the famed St John's Hospital, California.  And by her side in the round-the-clock vigil was Larry.

One night she whispered through the ventilator that was keeping her alive: "I promise you, my sweet, when this is over, I will marry you..."  
The wedding, in October, 1991, was the biggest media circus in Hollywood history.

Afterwards 2,000 guests including ex-presidents and Hollywood superstars, feasted on beverage at $200 a bottle, caviar, smoked salmon and lobster. Only the bride and groom drank grape juice for the toasts...

Husband number three, Eddie Fisher, watched the TV coverage of the wedding and remarked: "It's the first time Liz has married a regular guy. This one should last." Sadly, he was wrong.

When they were divorced in 1996, Larry got $500,000 of Liz's $100 million fortune and lost most of it in property speculation. They still spoke regularly on the phone and Larry wept when Liz died of heart failure in 2011 aged 79.

"I have very precious memories of our life together," is all he will say. "But they are private. They will always stay that way."


Share 

 Rate this Article
Rates : 0, Average : 0

Share more.

Post a Comment

Did you like this section? Leave a comment!
Your Name : Your Email Address :
Your Comment :
Enter Image Text:
 
No Comments Posted