The Legacy of Elizabeth Taylor: Did her beauty make you nervous?
By Mirna Santana
A Place In the Sun--Interview with Elizabeth Taylor
She started as a child actress. She didn’t take acting lessons. She learned through experiences, the old fashion way. That is the most natural way of learning by experience or as she said “by pure instinct"--by observing others and following their steps.
She sought to understand how others conveyed the emotions and how they integrated them into their roles. She studied the best people in her field and sought to mimic them.
During her glorious years she was considered the epitome of beauty and seduction. People were fascinated by the color of her eyes as well as her goddess-like looks.
She was a bright
woman and an inspiring being. Her peer actors and directors said that she was always that way.
Beauty and success early in life allowed her to be herself. She was direct and that was the cause of many people disliking her. She was not perfect and she did not care to be. Indeed, her flaws surfaced along with her shiny light. Her success and beauty allowed her to get away with things others may not had been allowed to get away with. After all, it is rather difficult to convey light without shadows.
As Barry Lopez would say “real beauty is so deep you have to move into darkness to understand it .” Most humans are not used to see the kind of beauty she was. Perhaps she was not aware of her personal power. She just lived it. Thus Elizabeth Taylor made everybody a little bit nervous. She was hard to understand yet transparent. There was some mystical aura to her. Yet, she clearly showed her humanity while she was growing into an American legend.
She loved glamour and jewelry. Would people have looked at her the same way if she had been different? Perhaps not so. Of gems she said “I adore wearing gems, but not because they are mine. You can't possess radiance, you can only admire it.” Was she not aware that people admired her radiance?
was very passionate for her career and for live in general. She was fortunate enough to discover her call as
an actor early in life. She loved acting and was good at it. She won Academy awards for Butterfield 8, 1960-- and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966. Other well known movies that she starred in include: National Velvet, A Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, and The Mirror Crack'd. She also participated in Broadway productions and was a guess in many TV shows.
Her legacy beyond the many movies and two Oscar awards, include her influence on a collective memory. Older generations associate her glamour to Hollywood's Golden Years. Many of the middle age generation may have watched some of her now classic films. New generations may remember her as an activist for Aids/HIV.
A public figure like her teaches us many lessons on being humans--both from her successes as well as from her failures. During her successful years she said: “I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I'm not afraid to look behind them.” Later on, she underwent many changes in her life, she went through many marriages (9) and divorces, but also struggled with alcohol and weight gain. Then she said “You find out who your real friends are when you're involved in a scandal.” Because during such times, even celebrities may find out who are their true friends.
Elizabeth Taylor was also quoted saying “It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting.” I listened to some of her last interviews where she talked about being in peace. She somewhat seemed to know the end of her life was approaching and she accepted that.
Aids/HIV was one of her great causes. A cause she awakened through being a witness of its effect on people she appreciated, such as peer actor Rock Hudson. A cause she embraced through seeing the rejection and the stigma society placed over its sufferers--above the weight of the illness itself. She was a voice for adults and children with the condition. When she spoke, she would ask people to see the humanity of people suffering from aids and asked them to show compassion. She was fully aware that as a public figure she had a responsibility with humanity.
She founded Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation as part of that long term commitment to support people who have being diagnosed with aids, many of which are children from poor countries. She reminded us that everyone is susceptible to the condition. The disease knows no barriers. She said for aids and for many other things: “So much to do, so little done.."
To honor her legacy you can donate to the AIDS foundation ElizabethTaylor.org You can also speak in favor of those people marginalized by society. By doing so, you may be embracing humanity just as she did.
Final note: I dedicate this piece to all those who will miss her. I also dedicate this piece to all people who have been diagnosed with AIDS/HIV, and all of those who support them. I finally dedicate it to my brother, for she was one of his favorite actresses.