Elizabeth Taylor R.I.PMarch 24, 2011
We’re fast running out of real Hollywood stars of the old school. We just lost another one at the age of 79. Her name was Elizabeth Taylor.
Much has been said of her beauty and indeed, it’s hard to deny, but she was also a good actress and a star in the days when it actually meant something.
I always knew she was British born, but only found out today that she was born here in London. Hampstead to be precise. She was a child actress featuring in such films as Lassie Come Home, and more notably National Velvet. She managed to move into adult roles with varying degrees of success before her appearance with Montgomery Clift in A Place In The Sun, setting the course for her career as a dramatic actress. The list of films are too numerous to mention, but here are some of them: Giant, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (one of three films she was nominated for as best actress at the academy awards) and Butterfield 8 (where she was awarded her first Oscar). She starred in Cleopatra where she met and later married Richard Burton. I remember as a child they appeared to be everywhere on TV and newspapers, much like any number of current celebrity couples, except to me, their relationship felt, well, more grown up. One film that I absolutely must see, based on the clips I saw on YouTube is Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? where she won her second Oscar, playing the character of Martha, an angry and bitter woman. Her famed beauty could’ve constricted her in her film choices, but she wasn’t afraid to eschew that beauty to give an authentic performance, and she certainly did it in that film.
She made some dodgy movies, which is to be expected for anyone who’s been in the business for a decent length of time (hello, The Flintstones), but her body of good work makes it more than forgivable.
She married eight times, twice to Richard Burton. They were a combustible combination, both on and off the screen. One of her more random husbands was Larry Fortensky, a construction worker. Fair play to her for upturning the expectations of who she, as a film star, should wed, because film stars cleave to their own, right?
In spite of her illnesses, and there were many (some which nearly finished her off), she was a tireless worker for AIDS-related charities, setting up a foundation for research after the death of co-star and friend Rock Hudson, at a time when most people weren’t sympathetic to those living with the disease. According to Wikipedia, she didn’t go to The Oscars in 2003 as a protest against the Iraq war. Whether you thought she was right or not, you couldn’t deny she was a woman of strong conviction. She was also a very close friend of Michael Jackson, probably formed from their mutual understanding and experience of being in the public eye from a very early age.
I’m going to make a point of watching at least two of her films as soon as possible so I can really appreciate her talent. With any luck there may be a showing of some of her work by the end of this week as a tribute.
Bet she’s having a right giggle now with Michael Jackson, Richard Burton, Montgomery Clift and many others. R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor.