Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor: In Memoriam

Movie legend Elizabeth Taylor has died at the age of 79. Arguably the biggest film icon, along with Marilyn Monroe, to come forth from the screen, Taylor was the much married, much publicized, much ridiculed and much loved star, known above all for her dark, sultry beauty.

Literal volumes have been written about Elizabeth Taylor, as there was a lot in her long and varied life to record. Born in Hampstead, England on February 27, 1932, she came to the United States and began her career as a child star. Her soft voice, violet eyes and dark good looks, set her apart from others and with National Velvet, made in 1944, she made a name for herself and a wad of dough for her studio, MGM. Unlike other child actors, she made the transition to adult roles almost seamlessly, due to her mature beauty at an early age (the girl looked like a goddess at 16 in A Date with Judy).

First married at 18 to hotel heir Nicky Hilton, she later married seven more times, twice to actor Richard Burton. Through them all, as well as her personal and public trials, tribulations and many health problems, the press followed her like a gossip hungry entourage. Heck, for an information hungry media, she was a veritable scandal buffet!

Not only a pretty face and name in the news, Taylor was also an Academy award winning actress. Her first Oscar came to her in 1960 for Butterfield 8 (some say as a consolation for nearly dying from pneumonia the previous year), her second for a much deserved performance with her then husband Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf in 1966. In 1999, La Liz was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. The title suited her.

Besides the afore mentioned films, Taylor appeared in such classics as Little Women (1948), the original Father of the Bride (1950), Giant (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and the massive Cleopatra (1963) the mega-bomb in which she met and fell in lust/love with Burton and became the first actress to be paid $1 million for a single film. (The thing about Cleopatra is, despite its woeful reception by critics, it was the highest grossing picture of 1963, but due to its enormous production costs ~ it was set to cost $2 million, but ended up with a $44 million price tag ~ it lost millions). Love her or hate her, Elizabeth Taylor was a true movie star.


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