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R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor

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!

Cropped screenshot of Richard Burton and Eliza...

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

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You must thank the LAPD

Porn star plunges to death

AP Photo/Axel Koester

The video in this post is a bit tart. I wouldn’t recommend showing it to anybody who is either suicidal, or has a problem with seeing a man plunge to his death. Granted, the man in question was an utterly unsavory character. While his real name was Stephen Clancy Hill, he went by the stage name Steve Driver. He allegedly slashed one co-worker to death and injured 2 others. According to the L.A. Times, the man was going to be fired from his job. Besides being paid to have sex in front of cameras, he also earned money packaging his own and others’ videos at the pornography company’s production facility in Van Nuys. (To those readers who are unfamiliar with the San Fernando Valley, its number 1 export is pornography.) Apparently Mr. Hill was also facing eviction. I’m not saying that I feel sorry for this man; however, the LAPD was sent in to keep him from committing suicide, so that he could be arrested and face trial for his terrible crimes.

So while this man is teetering on the brink of a cliff, the nincompoop on the right with a gun shoots him with “a less than lethal munition,” according to the AP. Of great interest to all the news outlets is the fact that all of Mr. Hill’s victims were co-stars with him and each other.

It only gets worse. “Sources familiar with the investigation but not authorized to speak publicly said Hill had a history of violence that included a 1999 assault-with-a-firearm conviction for threatening to kill one of his college instructors for not giving him an A. Hill, of Riverdale, Md., allegedly told the University of Maryland instructor that he was ‘a mobster and would dismember the instructor’s body if he didn’t get the grade,’ according to a 1999 story in the Washington Post.” As a Marylander and alumnus of the University of Maryland, College Park, I can only lower head in shame. I wonder if he ever completed a degree program? Threatening a professor for a grade is the lowest form of grade grubbing. I wonder who dropped the ball and let this guy back out on the streets back in 1999?

Mr. Stephen Clancy Hill fell to his death in scenic Chatsworth, California.

Al Seib/Los Angeles Times