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The Man Who Was Rumored to Be Engaged to Elizabeth Taylor but “Blew It”

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Transcendental Graphics / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Transcendental Graphics / Getty Images

Elizabeth Taylor’s photographer, Firooz Zahedi, released a beautiful book titled My Elizabeth that showcased his capturing of the famous Hollywood actress over the years. The pair first met in 1976, when he was just 27 and she was 44. As their friendship bloomed, a rumor was spread that they were set to be wed – not uncommon for the woman who had married eight times. By this time, they were 57 and 74, respectively, and Zahedi didn’t want the rumor to stain her reputation. However, it was Taylor who eventually told him he “blew it.”

Rumors of an engagement

Portrait of Elizabeth Taylor.
Elizabeth Taylor in 1976. (Photo Credit: Ron Galella / Ron Galella Collection / Getty Images)

In 2006, tabloids latched onto and spread the rumor that Zahedi and Taylor were engaged. “I have no idea how it came about,” Zahedi explained, reflecting on that time in his life with PEOPLE magazine in 2016. “I was taking my mom to a doctor somewhere in Virginia, and my agent in L.A. called me up and says, ‘The magazines are all calling about you getting married to Elizabeth Taylor.’ I first thought he was playing a joke on me so I hung up and [then] I was laughing about it.”

The rumor spread enough that when Zahedi next spoke with Taylor, she too had heard of their supposed engagement. “I called Elizabeth, and I said, ‘So I hear we are getting married.’ And she said, ‘Yes, I heard the same thing.’ I responded, ‘So when is this going to take place?'” While they were able to joke about it at first, Zahedi said that the rumor started to bother him.

The joke turned serious

Firooz Zahedi sitting in a chair.
Firooz Zahedi, the man referred to in the rumor of a possible engagement between he and Elizabeth Taylor, on December 2, 2017. (Photo Credit: Patrick McMullan / Patrick McMullan / Getty Images)

As time continued and the rumor spread even more, Zahedi started to get more worried about how it would affect Taylor. His main concern was that he didn’t want it to embarrass her, and he especially didn’t want her to think that it was he who had started it in the first place. Without knowing where it truly came from, it would be easy to point the finger at him.

“I called up Elizabeth’s publicist and I told him, ‘You have got to do something about this.’ And he laughed and said, ‘We’ve already got a quarter of a million dollars for the wedding photograph.'” Despite all the jokes, Zahedi was insistent. “I kept insisting they do something about it. I was trying to reach Elizabeth and I wasn’t getting through to her and I was wondering, ‘Is she really upset about this? What is going on?’ The next thing I read is a quote from Elizabeth saying, ‘No, Firooz and I are good friends. There has never been any romance between us.'”

Her statement said, “We are not, have never been and will never be romantically involved. My private life and my plans, at this time remain private.” However, it did refer to Zahedi as “an old and dear friend.”

Taylor was upset with Zahedi

Portrait of Elizabeth Taylor in her older age.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor on September 26, 2008, in Santa Monica, California. (Photo Credit: Jesse Grant / Getty Images)

Following the release of her statement, Zahedi had a difficult time getting ahold of Taylor. As it turned out, she was quite upset with the way he had so strongly denied the rumor of their possible engagement. “I kept trying to reach Elizabeth to discuss this, and finally I got her, and I said, ‘I am so sorry about all of this – because there is always this ridicule about older actresses, older society ladies going out with a younger guy,'” he explained to her.

Her response really opened his eyes and changed his way of thinking. He explained that, “she said, ‘What is wrong with me marrying someone younger than myself?’ It suddenly dawned on me. What is wrong with an older woman marrying a younger man? So we made up and I came back to L.A. and we just resumed our friendship the way it was.”

Read more: Jane Fonda Reveals Why She Won’t Date Someone Her Own Age – ‘I Don’t Like Old Skin’

In one of their last encounters before her death in March 2011, the pair had joked about flying off to Las Vegas to get married. Zahedi said, “And she gave me one of those cackling laughs of hers and said, ‘No way, Buster.’ Like, you had your chance – and you blew it.”

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!