"She was going into hospital the next day," Fortensky, 59, tells Britain's Daily Mail of their final talk. "I thought she was going to be okay. I told her she would outlive me. She said, 'Larry, I'm going to be okay.' "
It was the coda to the most unlikely of romances between the most famous actress of her generation and a man 20 years her junior who couldn't have been more anonymous.
They met at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1998. "Elizabeth was in there for pills, I was in there for beer," Fortensky says. "I knew who she was, of course, but I can't tell you that I remember watching any of her films."
They bonded quickly. "She was funny and sweet, and the more I got to know her, the sweeter she became," he says. "Of course, she was very pretty, and I wasn't too bad looking in those days, either. We had an instant physical attraction."
Yearning to Be FreeThey were married in 1991 at a lavish ceremony at Michael Jackson's Neverland ranch. And they had several happy years together. Fortensky points to a picture of Taylor frolicking in the snow, taken in Switzerland in 1992. "We were in bed, and she sat up and said, 'I want to make a snow angel.' She grabbed a fur coat and put it over her nightdress," he says.
"That's how I remember Elizabeth. She had a childishness about her. She was 20 years older than me, but I never felt she was old."
The spotlight on their marriage – and on them – placed a strain on the relationship. "Those cameras everywhere," he says. "Elizabeth was used to it. I never got used to it."
They split in 1996 but would remain friends and – just as Taylor did with another husband, John Warner – they spoke regularly, right up until her death.
"I have wonderful memories of my time with Elizabeth, and I will treasure her memory forever," he says. "I love her. I always will. And I know she loved me, too."