Wednesday, September 29, 2010
EDDIE FISHER : SCANDAL, PRINCESS LEIA and BRANGELINA
Obits for Eddie Fisher (August 10, 1928 – September 22, 2010) barely mentioned his fame as a popular singer in the 50's. Who'd care? Eddie's rivals back then included other forgotten names such as Guy Mitchell and Miss Toni Fisher. Had either of them died a few days ago, their obits would've been a paragraph or two at best.
The Washington Post led with the headline: "1950's singing star was brought low by scandalous love life." NBC's website (nbclosangeles.com) headlined: "Princess Leia's Father Died." The Associated Press's obit began: "Long before the era of Brangelina, TMZ and around-the-clock celebrity obsession, Eddie Fisher had a leading role in arguably the most explosive sex scandal of Hollywood's golden age…."
I think Eddie Fisher knew, late in life, his fame was not his forgotten hits. Almost nobody wants to hear "Thinking of You," "Any Time," "Tell Me Why" or "I'm Yours" even though they all were Top Five in their day. He had four #1 hits: Wish You Were Here (1952), I'm Walking Behind You (1952) "Oh My Pa Pa" (1953) and "I Need You Now" (1954). None have stood the test of time. On "Oh My Pa Pa" Fisher sounds like a younger version of the man who discovered him: Eddie Cantor. And everybody hates Eddie Cantor.
And so it is, that the blandly likable Mr. Fisher was best known as the hapless fool of "The Great Scandal," which was a zillion times more potent than the preceding one, a B-list brawl between bony Franchot Tone, hulking Tom Neal and hoyden Barbara Payton. Briefly, Eddie and Debbie Reynolds were a storybook couple who sang sappy songs and even made a rotten film together. When friend Liz Taylor was distraught over the death of husband Mike Todd, Fisher consoled Liz and got in way over his dickhead. Debbie found out, and Fisher boldly demanded a divorce. He married Liz who was soon jumping into bed with Richard Burton. A cuckolded Eddie Fisher was no longer anyone's idea of a sexy, desirable star. He was just a schmuck.
A change in musical styles rendered Fisher several notches below the mediocre level of a Vic Damone, who at least could snap his fingers on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and amuse some middle-aged women. Eddie toiled in nightclubs, re-surfaced as a "whatever became of…" and eventually wrote a raunchy tell-all that was a dirty sheeted laundry list of every likely (Angie Dickinson) and unlikely (Bette Davis) woman he'd encountered. An appalled Carrie Fisher commented: "That's it. I'm having my DNA fumigated."
The saddest thing about Fisher's death is the dumbed-down way it was handled in the press. People over 40 know who he is. Articles need not be slanted so that the stupidest reader gets it. What happens when Paul McCartney leaves us? Should we expect the headline: "Pioneer of "Bieber Hair" Dies"? Will Steve and Eydie get: "They were your Grandma's version of Donny and Marie"? Why do famous people have to be made relevant to teenagers? Articles on politics, war, nutrition or sports aren't slanted so a tween can enjoy them, so "Princess Leia's Father Dies" is just plain wrong. Newspaper and website obits that are supposed to be on the record, and a source authority, shouldn't be slanted as if they were issues of 16 or Tiger Beat.
PS, nobody bothered to question just how Eddie Fisher died from "complications" involving hip surgery. Rather than dredge up a long-dead scandal (Debbie Reynolds and Liz Taylor made up and became very friendly), how about alerting people to the potential dangers of a procedure that seems more and more popular among older people?
Shakespeare said the evil that men do lives after them, and the good is often in turds with their bones. Something like that. And so we forget, for example, that Eddie Fisher was good for the Jews. At a time when the record buying public was grabbing Sinatra, Damone, Como, Frankie Laine, Dino, Julius LaRosa, and the other Italians, Eddie Fisher became the first certifiable Jewish heart-throb in pop music. (Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor were throbs in a different way…pains in the butt). Eddie Fisher was halfway responsible for giving us Carrie Fisher. And in his day, Eddie Fisher was a good entertainer with a lot of Top Ten hits that people back then enjoyed tremendously. So good for him.
The download choice? Well, Eddie scored a Top Ten in 1955 with "Dungaree Doll," which was one of those early attempts (Pat Boone would become adept at this) to gently move from "big band" to the new style of "rock and roll." "Dungaree Doll" is almost a hybrid of MOR and rock, and there was a lot of it about (let's not forget those middle-aged singers who backed up many an Elvis song). The arrangement is stilted and Eddie's delivery is stiff, but give him credit for this commercial (and successful) attempt at singing for the Dobie Gillis crowd…the people slowly coming out of the deep freeze and the Cold War and warming up to the new beat, and the move from hep to hip.
DUNGAREE DOLL by EDDIE FISHER Instant listen on line or download. No pop-ups, porn-ads or "wait time" from weasels who want you to pay them for faster downloads on items they don't own any rights to download.