03/23/2011 AT 6:00 PM ET
Elizabeth Taylor was caught up in the scandal of the late ’50s when Eddie Fisher left his wife Debbie Reynolds to be with her.
But Fisher and Reynolds’s daughter Carrie Fisher, who was 2 years old when her parents divorced, would come to adore and respect Taylor.
“If my father had to divorce my mother for anyone, I m so grateful that it was Elizabeth,” Carrie said in a statement Wednesday of Taylor, who died at age 79. “This was a remarkable woman who led her life to the fullest rather than complacently following one around.”
Carrie, 54, called Taylor a “devoted mother” who was “loyal to the lifelong friends surrounding her” while also trying to make the world a better place.
“She found time to become one of the earliest champions for those living with HIV,” Carrie notes. “She will be missed but never forgotten.”
Reporting by JULIE JORDAN