Think of the scandal caused by Liz and Dick. It focused on Liz who had been married four times before the age of 30; she was currently married to Eddie Fisher who she stole from Debbie Reynolds. Not that long prior, the tabloids were putting out statements like this: ‘Liz Blood Thirsty Widow Vampires Eddy.’ Eddie was right there working with Liz during the filming of Cleopatra. Dick was married to Sybil Williams who was accustomed to his cheating. He had another woman, a Copacabana dancer, who would show up on the set of Cleopatra. And in the middle of all of that, Liz and Dick fell in love and started up an affair.
Remember that Cleopatra was filmed in the early 1960’s in Rome. The affair between Liz and Dick was not only public it was also a top story. Because they were situated in Rome, the Vatican got involved. Vatican Radio labelled their behavior as the ‘caprices of adult children’ and ‘this insult to the nobility of the hearth.’ Il Tempo called Liz an ‘intemperate tramp who destroys families and devours husbands.’ The Vatican City Weekly L’Osservatore della Domenica said she was guilty of ‘erotic vagrancy’ and questioned the agency that allowed her to adopt her daughter Maria.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, they debated whether or not to allow the lovers back into the country. They actually considered revoking the passports of Liz and Dick on the grounds of undesirability. Congresswoman Iris Blitch said Liz ‘lowered the prestige of American women abroad and damaged good will in foreign countries.’ Ed Sullivan, who had a very popular television show in the U.S., said ‘You can only trust that youngsters will not be persuaded that the sanctity of marriage has been invalidated by the appalling example of Ms. Taylor-Fisher and married man Burton.’
Once filming was over, Liz and Dick tried to chill everything out. She said:
For four months we tried to stay away from each other. We were too aware of the pain we were causing others to stay together. But it’s a hard thing to do, to run away from your fate. When you are in love and lust like that, you just grab it with both hands and ride out the storm.
Liz and Dick felt like they were betraying a sacred force in the universe when they tried to let their love go.
Some of this information is from the book ‘Furious Love’ and some is from a Vanity Fair article: ‘When Liz Met Dick The Making of Cleopatra.’
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