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Actress Debbie Reynolds says it's a blessing that her lifelong friend Elizabeth Taylor has passed on, because she was in a lot of pain toward the end. Reynolds, 78, tells Access Hollywood that she visited Taylor in the hospital two weeks ago, where they had a difficult conversation about Taylor's health.
"I said, 'Getting old is really s***,'" Reynolds recalls. "And she said, 'It certainly is. It certainly is, Debbie. This is really tough.'"
"I said, 'Well, you just hang in there now, Elizabeth,'" Reynolds continues. "And she said, 'I'm really trying. I'm really trying."
Taylor and Reynolds became close friends in high school, but had a very public falling-out in the late '50s when singer Eddie Fisher left wife Debbie for Elizabeth. After Taylor and Fisher's marriage dissolved, the actresses reconciled. It's clear that Debbie didn't hold a grudge for long.
"I even gave her my husband for goodness sakes!" Reynolds jokes to Access Hollywood. "How good of a friend can you be?"
Reynolds describes her late friend as a "glamorous and sexual star" who loved "a good dirty joke."
"She liked fun. She was rowdy. She loved men... Her best friends were always fellows," says Reynolds.
In her final years, however, Taylor was experiencing a great deal of pain and frustration, which she confided to Reynolds.
"This is a blessing in disguise," says Reynolds of her friend's death. "She couldn't be working and she couldn't do what she wanted to do, so I'm glad she's in a better place."
Carrie Fisher, the daughter of Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, shares her mother's high opinion of Elizabeth. In a statement, the Star Wars actress praises Taylor for being a devoted friend and an early champion of AIDS victims.
"If my father had to divorce my mother for anyone -- I'm so grateful that it was Elizabeth," Fisher writes in her touching statement. "This was a remarkable woman who led her life to the fullest rather than complacently following one around. She will be missed but never forgotten."
Fisher and Reynolds knew Taylor better than most, but they're not alone in mourning the loss of the Cleopatra star. Elton John, Tito Jackson and Barry Manilow have all released statements expressing their sadness, while other famous friends -- including Kim Kardashian and Jane Fonda -- are paying homage to Liz on Twitter. Months before her death, Taylor used her own Twitter account to spread a message of love to her friends and fans.
"Giving is to give to God. Helping is to help others," Liz wrote to her followers. "Every breath you take today should be with someone else in mind. I love you."
Elizabeth Taylor died from congestive heart failure on Wednesday at the age of 79. She is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.