Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds reflect on Elizabeth Taylor

Carrie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds
CBS/Getty Images
Carrie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor and Debbie Reynolds.

(CBS) It was one of the biggest scandals of its day - singer Eddie Fisher leaving wholesome actress Debbie Reynolds (and their two young children) to marry sexy screen icon Elizabeth Taylor.

That was half a century ago. But now, following Taylor's death on Wednesday at the age of 79, both Reynolds and daughter Carrie Fisher spoke highly of the Oscar-winner.

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Fisher, who was just 2 years old when her parents divorced, said in a statement obtained by People magazine that Taylor was a "remarkable woman" and a "devoted mother."

"If my father had to divorce my mother for anyone, I'm so grateful that it was Elizabeth," she said. "This was a remarkable woman who led her life to the fullest rather than complacently following one around."

Fisher added that Taylor was "loyal to the lifelong friends surrounding her" and "found time to become one of the earliest champions for those living with HIV. She will be missed but never forgotten."

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Reynolds, the star of "Singin' in the Rain" and other musicals, told "Access Hollywood" that she spoke to her one-time rival just two weeks before her death.

"I said, 'Getting old is really s---,'" Reynolds said of their final conversation. "And she said, 'It certainly is. It certainly is, Debbie. This is really tough.'"

"I said, 'Well, you just hang in there now, Elizabeth,'" she added. "And she said, 'I'm really trying.'"

Reynolds continued, "God bless her, she's on to a better place. I'm happy that she's out of her pain, because she was in a lot of pain."

She added that the two went to school together on the MGM studio lot when they were young, and that despite their rocky history, they were friends at the time of Taylor's death.

Reynolds also reflected on Taylor in a statement, saying, "She was the most glamorous and sexual star of our generation. No one else could equal Elizabeth's beauty and sexuality. Women liked her and men adored her, and her love for her children is enduring."

She added, "She was a symbol of stardom. Her legacy will last."