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Hollywood Elite, Part 11 - Dame Elizabeth Taylor
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor 1932 - 2011
I Love Her, Not for Her Breasts, Her Buttocks or Her Knees but for Her Mind. It is Inscrutable. She Is Like a Poem - Richard Burton (husband # 5 & 6)
Our infinite galaxy has grown slightly dimmer since the loss of another heavenly body on March 23, 2011 at age 79. Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, or as we Americans affectionately called her "Liz", left this earthly plane to embark on a journey of another sort.
The world has lost not only the most talented and renowned actress of a decade but, a former child star, mother of four, grandmother of ten and great-grandmother of four.
Untiring AIDS activist, two time Academy Award recipient for Best Actress, named seventh on the list of female legends list by The American Film Institute, survivor of eight marriages and several life threatening illnesses.
The violet eyed temptress, famous for sporting a 19 inch waist, was known as one of the greatest screen actresses of the Golden Era of Hollywood. An icon whose life was as dramatic on screen as off.
Elizabeth and Richard on Amazon
National Velvet on Amazon
Lassie Come Home at Amazon
“The kid has nothing.” Casting director at Universal Pictures, on a young Elizabeth Taylor.
The second child born to American parents, Francis Lenn Taylor and Sara Viola Warbrodt the young Elizabeth was raised in Heathwood. Residing in her parents home at 8 Wilwood Road in Hampstead Garden Suburb, located in the northwestern part of London.
Liz was christened Elizabeth Rosemond in honor of her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Mary (Rosemond) Taylor. Her father, an art dealer, and her mother a former actress (stage name, Sara Sothern) originally hailed from Arkansas City, Kansas later re-locating to England.
In 1939 the actress and her family moved to Los Angeles, California right after the start of World War l, to avoid the violent fallout, where her father opened his second art gallery. The gallery opening attracted many Hollywood celebrities of the era granting the Taylor's access to only the most prestigious of the Hollywood elite. Many friends and strangers urged Sara to take her breathtakingly beautiful offspring to MGM Studios to screen test for an upcoming new movie Gone with the Wind . The idea fell upon deaf ears. Mrs. Taylor found the notion of her child involved in the movie business unheard of and strange, plus she and her family plan to return to England at the end of the war.
World famous columnist Hedda Hopper got involved introducing the young Elizabeth and her family to Andrea Berens, chairman and major stockholder of Universal Pictures. The flow of command drifted up to studio head Louis B. Mayer who ordered that the young beauty sign a seven year contract without a screen test!
Taylor's first movie role was in 1943 with child star Roddy McDowall, Lassie Come Home , the pairing cemented a friendship that would last a life time, one of many. In 1944 a film called National Velvet would blast a twelve year old girl into international stardom.
Liz at 21
Mattie the "Cat" on a Hot Tin Roof
"Suddenly Last Summer"
True Queen of Hollywood
There are Three Things I Never Saw Elizabeth Taylor Do: Tell a Lie; Be Unkind to Anyone; and Be on Time - Mike Nichols
Unlike many child stars Taylor made the transition from adolescent to adult roles without a misstep. Many of Elizabeth's movies are some of my favorite Hollywood classics;
- 1951 - A Place in the Sun - opposite Montgomery Clift - story was based on a true event. Taylor played Angela Vickers - a rich socialite who became the third wheel in a love triangle that involved an already pregnant girlfriend Alice Tripp (Shelley Winters), and George Eastman, a social climbing jerk (Montgomery Clift). The movie is sad the outcome tragic, but the handling of the delicate subject matter is riveting very avantgarde for it's time.
- 1956 - Giant opposite her long time friend Rock Hudson and James Dean - an epic motion picture written by George Stevens. A wealthy Virginia cattle rancher comes home with a spoiled new wife. Storyline focuses on racial and class mores of the time. Stellar performance by, then newcomer, Dennis Hopper.
- 1957 - Raintree County - again opposite Montgomery Clift (another lifetime friend). Against the backdrop of the start of the Civil War, Liz plays a southern belle who arrives in a small Indiana town. Seduces Clift, wrenching him from his fiancee' (an infamous habit in real life with Taylor) he joins the Union and upon his returns finds that his new love has retreated into madness.
- 1958 - Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Elizabeth (Maggie the Cat) a frustrated unfulfilled wife plays opposites the oh so hot Paul Newman, who plays Brick, injured, ex-football player and alcoholic, the apple of "Big Daddy's eye. A Tennessee Williams vehicle that takes place primarily in the couple's bedroom snuggled in a huge plantation house. Set in the hot sweaty south, in the 50s, while the two primary characters verbally spar and dissect the southern social mores of the time.
- 1959 - Suddenly Last Summer - Liz opposite Montgomery Clift yet again - a wicked aunt summons a psychiatrist to her palatial Louisiana mansion to perform a lobotomy on her mentally disturbed niece (Liz). The doctor soon realizes more is amiss that meets the eye.
- 1960 - BUtterfield 8 - I remember sitting in the theater watching this one. At the time we had no rating system and in all probability I feel I was to young for this fair. Elizabeth stars opposite Laurence Harvey, co-star Eddie Fisher (more off screen drama with this guy). Liz plays a model who is a part time call girl, in love and involved with a married man. Her character carries a dark secret and the outcome of this union is sad and tragic. Again another movie featuring subject matter well before its time. Liz seemed to be drawn to films of this nature and excelled in them. Due to a debilitating illness Taylor was pronounced dead while working on this film.
- 1963 - Cleopatra - paired Liz Taylor with husband number four and five, Richard Burton. Not really a favorite, but went on to become a cult classic. Hollywood suits opted for glitter and sex rather than an accurate telling of the historical event. During this time Ms. Taylor was the highest paid actresses of the time at one million dollars for the title role.
True Hollywood "Diamond"
Liz Taylor . . . a Timeless Beauty
The Camera Truly Loved Liz Taylor
Dame Taylor as a Child
A True Humanitarian and Friend
Her AIDS organization AMFAR raised $83 million in the twelve years following its creation in 1985.
A Statement from Ms. Taylor's Site:
"Miss Taylor personally underwrites all costs for raising and administering the Foundation’s funds, allowing 100% of all donations received to be put to work serving people with HIV/AIDS".
Magic Johnson - "Elizabeth, thank you for all your help in the battle for HIV and AIDS," he wrote. "You will be missed by the world."
Larry King - "Elizabeth Taylor was a great friend, a great star and one gutsy woman. She was so special. You won't see the likes of her again..."
Roseanne Cash - (daughter of famed musician Johnny Cash) "Every year Elizabeth Taylor sent my dad a telegram (yes, telegram) for his birthday. It said: 'Remember, I'm younger than you!'" But it was only by one day, Cash noted.
Elizabeth's Quotes About Her Lifetime Friends:
Michael Wilding - I'm afraid in those last few years I gave him a rather rough time. Sort of henpecked him and probably wasn't mature enough for him. It wasn't that we had anything to fight over. We just weren't happy.
John Wayne - He is as tough as an old nut and as soft as a yellow ribbon.
Clark Gable -He was the epitome of the movie star -- so romantic, such bearing, such friendliness.
Montgomery Clift - Monty was the most emotional actor I have ever worked with. And it is contagious.
Marilyn Monroe - She seemed to have a kind of unconscious glow about her physical self that was innocent, like a child. When she posed nude, it was 'Gee, I am kind of, you know, sort of dishy,' like she enjoyed it without being egotistical.
Michael Jackson - I will love Michael Jackson forever He is part of my heart. We would do anything for each other. Re; his passing; I just don't believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others. How I feel is between us. Not a public event.
My Final Thoughts:
No truer star has ever lived. The world is a better place while she was in it. Despite her human flaws she was a great humanitarian, friend, mother, grandmother, great-grand mother , artist and a true Grand Dame who will be sorely missed.