For Liz, 'It was a blast'

October 08, 1991|By Liz Smith | Liz Smith,Newsday


That's how Elizabeth Taylor described her wedding to construction worker Larry Fortensky, after the two became man and wife at 6:40 p.m. Pacific Time, on Sunday, Oct. 6.

Larry and Liz -- Mr. and Mrs. Fortensky -- were then sitting inside a white wedding tent on Michael Jackson's 2,700-acre ranch-estate in the dramatic Santa Ynez mountains of California.

The newlyweds were enjoying their wedding supper with about 150 of their nearest and dearest friends. The bridal table boasted Michael Jackson sitting at Elizabeth's right hand. (She had her groom securely at her left.) Also present at this table on the dance floor were actress Brooke Shields, bridesmaid Carole Bayer Sager and her fellow, producer Richard Cohen, matron of honor, London's Norma Heyman and assorted others who came and went.

The merrymakers at the wedding had just lived through the indescribable furor and the hectic din of a wedlock under siege by helicopter, and they were still recovering from the shock that a real-life parachutist, wearing a camera on his helmet, had floated right down into their midst.

In spite of the bizarre necessity of having to employ security and fend off such press, the wedding was otherwise downright sedate and demure. Past presidents did not appear. Madonna was not invited (in fact, one insider quipped, "Madonna might show up if Jesus Christ does!"), flocks of white doves were not released, Bubbles the Chimp did not serve as ring bearer.

The wedding took place under a white gazebo placed in the shade of a giant oak tree. Guests sat in a half circle of white folding chairs out in the open, and there was a white grand piano near the gazebo, plus a string quartet.

Behind the gazebo were beautiful large trees surrounding a man-made lake on which floated a large, white swan boat. The gazebo itself was decorated with swathes of green fir, threaded with daisies and giant gardenias.

We were surrounded on all sides by babbling brooks, but these were drowned out early on by the choppers. Security had set out a few giant colorful helium balloons, tethered to the earth and floating overhead to keep the helicopters from landing or hovering. (One helicopter severed a balloon line but did not crash.)

The wedding was to begin at 5:30 p.m., and about that time Elizabeth's mother was brought to the front row in a wheelchair. Time passed, people began to get up and mill about and look around at Michael's "toys" -- his miniature train, his Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, his little bronze statues of children playing musical instruments.

At last, Nancy Reagan came down the walkway and sat in the front row near Elizabeth's mother. (Former President Reagan was not with her; he'd sent word he was detained "on business.")

The pianist did not play "Here Comes the Bride," but some indescribable music brought out ushers and bridesmaids and suddenly Elizabeth appeared. Her dark suntan and deep decolletage were visible far away against her buttercup yellow rTC dress. She was escorted by Michael Jackson on her right and her son, the actor Michael Wilding Jr.

At the beginning of the ceremony it was impossible to hear anything Marianne Williamson was saying. At one point, she shouted over the noise of helicopters, "I know you can't hear us, but I promise you that Elizabeth and Larry can hear."

And she closed saying, "I do believe in your love for one another, I pronounce you, Larry and Elizabeth, Mr. and Mrs. Larry Fortensky!"

The couple exchanged a kiss. Then Miss Taylor put her hand up on her new husband's cheek and tenderly touched his mouth. She gave him the kind of glance described by Ring Lardner as "a look you could have poured on a waffle."

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