Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Farewell to a legend: Elizabeth Taylor 1932-2011

I fell in love with her as Rebecca in Ivanhoe and couldn't understand why the hero chose the insipid blond over the sultry, violet eyed, dark-haired beauty. I certainly understood why the evil George Saunders was in love with her - who wouldn't fall in love with Elizabeth at 16? Her beauty was amazing but after I got a bit older, most of her roles didn't interest me and the voice (breathy, thin and a bit high) really bugged me. 

But - another caveat - her role with Montgomery Clift in "A Place in the Sun" continues to hold up. Can there be any movie with scenes more beautiful? 
When the domed George (Clift) says to Taylor's character, "I love you. I've loved you since the first moment I saw you. I guess maybe I've even loved you before I saw you," the scene resonated long after the film credits rolled to the end. 

Unless, of course, it's Paul Newman and Liz? "What is the victory of a cat on a hot tin roof?—I wish I knew... Just staying on it, I guess, as long as she can..."
- Tennessee Williams, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Act 1

Like many others in the 60's, I enjoyed the Liz and Richard soap opera. They loved and lived on a grand scale. It was more interesting to me than any of their film roles.

After they divorced, I lost interest in her life but at least she avoided the one of the pitfalls of aging actresses - poverty. The drugs almost got her but she pulled herself out of that pit, even if the marriage to Larry what's his name could be seen, in retrospect, as the action of some one whose brain had been damaged by too many little white pills. 
But what a life she had! Seventy roles, eight marriages; as the NY Times obit says, "she was beauty incarnate." They admire her acting more than I did but one things for sure - she was a survivor, a generous and loyal friend and somebody who raised money for AIDS research before it was popular. I got to meet her once when she was here, raising money for the AIDS clinic when Dr. Paul Volberding ran it. Oh Lord - that was 20+ (?) years ago? She was so magnificently beautiful that I simply couldn't believe it. She was also a diva but nice about it - and who could blame her. She was Hollywood royalty and a far cry from the trash that inhabit the place these days.

Vanity Fair:


Matty Boy said...

Hi, Nancy. You're free to remove this post if you like, but it's Clift, not Cliff.

namastenancy said...

ooops.. thanks for the correction. I am a lousy proof-reader and usually have to rewrite my copy several times before I get it right.