Elizabeth Taylor's Last Husband Tells All About Their Marriage

04/26/2011 at 07:00 AM EDT

Elizabeth Taylor's Last Husband Tells All About Their Marriage
Larry Fortensky and Elizabeth Taylor, in the early 1990s
Kevin Mazur/Getty
After years of silence, Larry Fortensky, the construction worker who met Elizabeth Taylor in rehab and became her eighth and final husband, has opened up about their years together – and their conversation just days before the screen legend died last month at 79.

"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 Free

They 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."

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