It is a sad day indeed here in Hollywood. An icon of epic proportions just died. I am speaking of Elizabeth Taylor. I heard the news on the Washington Post’s web site. It appears she left her body some time around 11 a.m. Pacific time. The cause of death is listed as complications of congestive heart failure. She’d been in hospital for a couple of weeks at Cedars Sinai, celebrating her birthday there on February 27. Her four children were with her when she died according to IMDB. As the peons and praises pour in, let my add my weak voice to the chorus. An Oscar laureate two times over, she never really garnered the acclaim as an actress that she deserved. She was accused of dragging down Richard Burton, ruining his career and making him a lap poodle. Let’s remember that Sir Richard was an alcoholic of raging proportions, that he remarried her just for the sadistic pleasure of leaving her again.
Why should we care about the passing of Liz Taylor? Because it marks the end of an era. A child actress, she made her fame in Lassie (the movie) and National Velvet. As an adult, her list of credits is endless. She worked hard for the money, yet according to all reports, she was a gracious lady to all comers, hence the Larry Fortensky fiasco. With Ms. Taylor’s passing, gone is a woman who turned all heads, world round, not just with her beauty but also her very public private life. She is one of the last of a dying breed- a real actor who put herself into a role without losing herself in that role. An actor who took her work more seriously than public persona. We could use more Liz Taylor’s and less Angelina Jolie’s in the movie business, that’s for sure. Despite her strange proclivities, such as her friendship with Michael Jackson, she did her best to leave the world a better place than when she found it, especially her groundbreaking work on the part of victims of AIDS. She’s probably done more single-handedly to humanize the plight of these people, and to encourage research and development of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS. God Bless her. She will be missed by generations of fans.
What are my favorite movies by Liz? You may ask. Here’s a short list: Cleopatra, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Butterfield 8 (a campy romp that landed her first Oscar). Virginia Wolfe was Oscar number 2. She did her share of stinkers- remember the Sandpipers? On the whole, her career was lengthy and full of well-deserved plaudits. She was a ground breaker in many ways. Did you know that she was the first actor to be paid a cool million for a role? That was back in 1963. Can you imagine Angelina Jolie condescending to take a role for only one million? Never!
Image via Wikipedia- Taylor & Burton in Cleopatra (1963)
Remember when she became the official vamp/femme fatale when she “stole” Eddie Fisher from poor little Debbie Reynolds? Nothing like that could ever happen again in this jaded world in which we live. The whole Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston affair was like a puff of smoke compared to the media explosion caused by the Reynolds-Fisher breakup and Liz’s role in it. Liz was a mirror of our society in many ways, from her mixed up marital shenanigans, to her charity and finally in her passing. According to sources, she went gently into that goodnight, to paraphrase a Welsh poet. Good bye, Liz. This is one blogger who will mourn you deeply. Speaking of bloggers, I stumbled across a great blog that has tons of beautiful pictures of the former Queen of Glamour. Please allow me to treat you to a couple.
Below is a more down to earth image of Liz, from the filming of Suddenly Last Summer, another great Taylor vehicle. When she is standing on the catwalk above the “insane” people, her facial expressions are amazing and real. Those smoldering glances and piercing eyes captured my heart when I was a little boy. I’ll never stop loving you, Liz! You will live forever in the hearts of your fans and in the body of work that you’ve left behind.
Smoldering in Suddenly Last Summer
Liz in 1964, photographed by Avedon