Who was Larry Fortensky?
Larry Fortensky was an American construction worker. He was the seventh and last husband of Hollywood screen legend Elizabeth Taylor. They were married for five years, from October 1991 to October 1996. A native of California, Fortensky was the oldest child of his parents. He left school in the 10th grade and enlisted in the US military. However, he was discharged only three months later. After returning home, he began working as a construction worker and married and divorced two women between 1972 and 1984. Throughout his life, Fortensky struggled with drugs and alcohol. In 1988, he checked himself into the Betty Ford Center, where he became acquainted with Taylor, 20 years his senior. A romance soon developed between them. She would often deliver various gifts to his worksite. Their wedding was lavish, costing somewhere between $1.5 and $2 million. After their divorce, according to Fortensky, they remained in contact until Taylor’s death in March 2011. Fortensky himself passed away five years later, in July 2016. Prior to his death, he gave several interviews detailing his relationship with Taylor before, during, and after their marriage.
Childhood & Early Life
Larry Fortensky was born on January 17, 1952, in Stanton, California to Harold 'Pete' Fortensky and Dorothy Fortensky. He had six younger siblings, including two sisters named Donna and Linda. He attended Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California but dropped out in the 10th grade. Subsequently, he joined the US Army in 1972 but was served the discharge papers three months later.
Soon after returning from the Army, he started working as a construction worker. In 1972, he also married his first wife, Priscilla Joan Torres. They had a daughter together, whom they named Julie. The couple ultimately divorced in 1974. Fortensky and second wife, Karin McNeal, married in 1976 and divorced in 1984. This union did not produce a child.
Fortensky struggled with both drugs and alcohol throughout his life. In 1987, after police discovered him in a parking lot in San Clemente, California, highly intoxicated and in possession of marijuana, he was found guilty of driving while intoxicated.
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Relationship with Elizabeth Taylor
Fortensky eventually admitted to himself that he had a drinking problem. In 1988, he checked himself into the famed Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California where he met Taylor, who was there because of her own issues with pills. During this period, he was living out of a small house in Stanton.
He remembered Taylor as “funny and sweet” in those early days of courtship. Taylor, at 56, was still beautiful and glamorous. Fortensky, as a 36-year-old man, wasn’t bad looking either. There was an instant physical attraction. After they both left the treatment centre, she would often deliver “goodies” to him at his workplace. The relationship was passionate and serious. It developed enough in the next few years that they were ready to get married.
The considerable age difference seemingly mattered little to either of them. On October 6, 1991, Fortensky married Taylor in a magnificent ceremony at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara County, California. The wedding was attended by 160 guests, including Franco Zeffirelli, Arsenio Hall, Pia Zadora, George Hamilton, Merv Griffin, Quincy Jones, Macaulay Culkin, Liza Minnelli, Eddie Murphy, and Nancy Reagan. Michael Jackson and her eldest son Michael Wilding, Jr. served as Taylor’s escorts. Fortensky’s entire family came in their own cars and not in limousines. Taylor’s hairdresser, José Eber, acted as Fortensky’s best man. The couple donated all the money they earned from selling their wedding photos to various AIDS-related charities.
Prior to the wedding, a prenuptial agreement was drawn up between Taylor and Fortensky. If they remained married for five years, Fortensky was promised $1 million. The couple eventually divorced on October 31, 1996, within a month of their five-year wedding anniversary. According to Linda Untiet, one of Fortensky’s sisters, the marriage ended because he did not want to be “Mr Taylor” any longer.
Later Life & Death
Fortensky and Taylor maintained contact in the years afterwards and would often spend hours on the phone talking to each other. On January 29, 1999, Fortensky had to be hospitalised after he fell down a flight of stairs at his home in San Juan Capistrano, California. He was in a coma for the next six weeks and wouldn’t be released from the hospital until two months later. Due to the accident, Fortensky would suffer short-term memory losses that would persist until his death.
Taylor reportedly gave him $50,000 for paying the $5,800/month mortgage on the three-bedroom house he had bought in Temecula, California in 2002, with the money he had originally received from the divorce settlement.
Fortensky and Taylor last talked on the phone on the day before she went to the hospital in 2011. Taylor passed away on March 23, 2011, leaving him $800,000 in her will. He died on July 7, 2016, due to cancer.