All right Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up

24 March 2011

The Last Legend-Elizabeth Taylor

"Marilyn Monroe was the sex goddess, Grace Kelly the ice queen, Audrey Hepburn the eternal gamine. Ms. Taylor was beauty incarnate."
New York Times-Mel Gussow

 It is indeed an overused word -"Legend", but Elizabeth Taylor did more than wear the badge, she defined it.  As a child actress she made her first real mark in National Velvet in 1944.  Unlike many child stars Ms. Taylor made the transition to adult roles moving from innocent parts in films such as Lassie and Velvet to a screen siren in  A Place in the Sun (1951) opposite Montgomery Clift-cooing in his ear "You'll be my pick-up" and the steamy sex-kitten Maggie in  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) with Paul Newman. Roles in films in the 50s and 60s and early 70s such as  Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Giant,Raintree County, Cleopatra and  The Taming of the Shrew are filled with so many of the celluloid images that would eventually secure her status as the quintessential Hollywood icon- often known more for the drama of her life off screen than on,8 marriages to 7 men,Richard Burton twice, plagued by illness and tragedy she was an endless source of tabloid headlines that perhaps enhanced the aura around her.
 She was indeed larger than life, vulnerable yet a force to be reckoned with, as an often under rated actress who would win two Oscars- for BUtterfield 8 and her portrayal of the very un-glamorous alcoholic ,Martha, in Mike Nichol's Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf ,she would win a third in 1993 for her humanitarian work with many causes such as her dedication to finding a cure for AIDS after the loss of her friend and  Giant co-star Rock Hudson.
 The jewelry,the husbands, and all the personal battles and turmoil may have fueled her celebrity, but it will be her violet eyed beauty that most will remember, an unmatched incandescence on screen that no one could touch. Whatever the drama that seemed always to swirl around her  life it will be the images of Elizabeth Taylor the film beauty that will  remain and define her as what she was-a true Hollywood Legend.

"The shock of Elizabeth was not only her beauty. It was her generosity. Her giant laugh. Her vitality...She is singular and indelible on film and in our hearts."  Mike Nichols