Monday, March 28, 2011
Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Hollywood Icon
There are really just two types of stars that most people think of when they are asked about Hollywood of old – the ones who died too soon like Marilyn Monroe or James Dean…or the ones that were the essence of glamour and American royalty like Taylor. That sure is what Taylor has always meant to me. She was amazingly beautiful, a wonderful actress who managed to move from child to adult star (a rare feat in Hollywood), and had a private life just as dramatic as her films.
There’s One Born Every Minute” (1942)).
But Taylor’s mother took her to see Louis B. Mayer of MGM, and the gentleman was captivated by the little girl with the bright violet eyes. (Taylor was actually born with a double set of lashes, which just made her vibrant eyes pop even more.) At MGM, she had a couple of small parts in “Lassie Come Home” and “Jane Eyre” (both 1943) before landing the role that made her career, “National Velvet” (1944). MGM kept her busy but she would never have that same success again, not until her first marriage.
“Father of the Bride.” Yes, that film would start her on the path to adult stardom but it would also be the beginning of a sea of marriages. After her short union with Hilton (less than a year), it was Michael Wilding, then Mike Todd. However, it was Todd’s sudden death that would propel Taylor into the world of the paparazzi, a relatively new fascination, unlike today.
“Cleopatra” (1963) for a record $1 million (unheard of for actresses of that time). This would lead her to the love of her life, a lesser-known Welsh actor named Richard Burton. After the grueling production was completely moved from England to Rome, Burton was signed on to replace the first Anthony to Taylor’s Cleopatra. Their chemistry was instantaneous to all around. And thus began Taylor’s second public scandal in a row, as still-married-to-Fisher Taylor started her biggest affair with married Burton.
voice of gold. She divorced Fisher but remained Burton’s mistress. Burton in turn had no idea what he was getting into as well. Quoted as saying about their affair and the mass media that followed them constantly, “How did I know she was so f*&%ing famous?” But he was hooked, and though he had always stated in his many affairs beforehand that he would never divorce (being a devout catholic), Taylor was too much for him, and he finally divorced his wife. Taylor and Burton then married and had ten rocky, passionate, roller coaster years together before divorcing. They would then remarry a year later, only to divorce once again in less than a year. But Taylor stated for the rest of her life that Burton was the love of her life…and Burton the same of Taylor. They would keep in touch for the rest of Burton’s life.
So maybe now they can be together in peace, free of the prying eyes and pressures of life. May you be in peace, Ms. Taylor. You were a bright star on earth and are now one in the heavens. Until next time, everyone.
(Post-tidbit: The day after Taylor died, she was buried at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Glendale. Per her instructions, the ceremony was delayed 15 minutes. She wanted to be late to her own funeral. She had a sense of humor to the end. She now lies next to her good friend Michael Jackson.)