Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

Posted on March 27, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I have loved the tributes to the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor this week and wanted to share some of the best. My friend Margo Howard has a priceless recollection of having Elizabeth Taylor as her babysitter. Dan Zak in the Washington Post asked movie critics and people who knew Miss Taylor to contribute their favorite memories and performances, and I was honored to be included. Adam Bernstein’s obituary in the Washington Post captured her beautifully. He described her as ” a voluptuous violet-eyed actress who lived a life of luster and anguish and spent more than six decades as one of the world’s most visible women for her two Academy Awards, eight marriages, ravaging illnesses and work in AIDS philanthropy.”

By her mid-20s, she had been a screen goddess, teenage bride, mother, divorcee and widow. She endured near-death traumas, and many declared her a symbol of survival — with which she agreed. “I’ve been through it all, baby,” she once said. “I’m Mother Courage.” News about her love affairs, jewelry collection, weight fluctuations and socializing in rich and royal circles were followed by millions of people. More than for any film role, she became famous for being famous, setting a media template for later generations of entertainers, models and all variety of semi-somebodies. She was the “archetypal star goddess,” biographer Diana Maddox once wrote.

Slate’s brilliant movie critic, Dana Stevens, wrote a perceptive appreciation of Miss Taylor as personality, actress, star, and woman: “She was at her best playing characters who inhabited their own bodies with a confident, careless pleasure…Even in her lowest moments onscreen and off, Elizabeth Taylor was always bursting to excess with life.” She also includes a link to Roger Ebert’s marvelous 1969 interview with Miss Taylor and Richard Burton. Ebert’s poignant Elizabeth Taylor tribute in the Wall Street Journal

Turner Classic Movies will have an all-day tribute on April 10. They’re all worth watching but be sure to set your DVR for the ones I’ve put in bold.

6 a.m. – Lassie Come Home (1943), with Roddy McDowall and Edmund Gwenn; directed by Fred M. Wilcox.

7:30 a.m. – National Velvet (1944), with Mickey Rooney, Anne Revere and Angela Lansbury; directed by Clarence Brown.

10 a.m. – Conspirator (1952), with Robert Taylor and Robert Flemyng; directed by Victor Saville.

11:30 a.m. – Father of the Bride (1950), with Spencer Tracy, Billie Burke, Joan Bennett and Don Taylor; directed by Vincente Minnelli.

1:15 a.m. – Father’s Little Dividend (1951), with Spencer Tracy, Billie Burke, Joan Bennett and Don Taylor; directed by Vincente Minnelli.

2:45 p.m. – Raintree County (1957), with Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, Rod Taylor and Agnes Moorehead; directed by Edward Dmytryk.

6 p.m. – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), with Paul Newman and Burl Ives; directed by Richard Brooks.

8 p.m. – Butterfield 8 (1960), with Laurence Harvey and Eddie Fisher; directed by Daniel Mann.

10 p.m. – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), with Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis; directed by Mike Nichols.

12:30 a.m. – Giant (1956), with James Dean and Rock Hudson; directed by George Stevens.

4 a.m. – Ivanhoe (1952), with Robert Taylor and Joan Fontaine; directed by Richard Thorpe.

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7 Replies to “Remembering Elizabeth Taylor”

  1. What a beautiful woman we mourn this day, the influence and steadfast devotion she had for what she believed in will be missed. I have a few favorite celebrities and thanks to modern technology, I can stay in tune even when away. I travel a bit through work at Dish Network and my husband has promised to tape anything on Ms. Taylor for me. We upgraded to HD which is incredible in every way and makes everything crisper and more vibrant. It’s a shame more people are not aware of the possibilities. The HD programming is the most important part and steps up the details of every inch of the screen. Luckily Dish offers more HD programming than anyone in the business and is always working on getting more. I’ll be watching all the reruns on TCM with Elizabeth Taylor in HD so she will be even more gorgeous. With her memory goes the end of an era of Hollywood. This same era that helped build the foundation for what Hollywood has become today. Regardless of how entranced we are with the celebrities we see everyday, there is something in the classical essence that can not be recreated. Long live the memory of a beautiful and astounding woman.

  2. Thanks for this, Nell. I’ve been reading all the wonderful tributes, but it was the photos that really grabbed me and moved me. Elizabeth Taylor was one tough broad and also one of the world’s most beautiful women. I’ve always loved the story about her saving Montgomery Clift’s life, which I’ve discovered most people don’t know about. I’m going to show “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” at my film club this month. My favorite Taylor and Burton movie. Taylor was brilliant and gutsy, and fully deserved her Oscar (though, for my money, it was Burton’s movie). Taylor was a remarkable woman, complex and full of contradictions, but a real woman and a genuine human being. We won’t see her like again.

  3. Elizabeth Taylor was a beautiful woman and a great actress. I pray that God strengthens all her family members and loved ones. This is a prime example that no matter how beautiful, how talented, or how good you were one much leave here. Elizabeth Taylor has done what we all must one day do.My favorite was “Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolf” with Richard Burton I thought they looked so well together.

  4. Before reading all these comments and hearing all that I’ve heard about this special woman I never knew much about her except about all the men she married but there was so much more to him and all those that knew her or ever got an opportunity to meet her was blessed and I pray the lord blesses her family and gives them the strength they need to say goodbye to her and for all the people that were a part of her life, Lord bless each and every one who reads this.

  5. i was a kid when ‘Liz’ was at her peak …

    but i still realized she was that rare creature: an actress who was not only truly beautiful, but also a tremendous actor. drama, comedy, stage, film … even Shakespeare… there’s nothing in her field she couldn’t do and do brilliantly.

    we’ll miss you Lady.

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