Thursday, March 24, 2011
Rest in peace, Ms. Taylor
I didn’t like Elizabeth Taylor’s voice. I had no respect for her throw-away attitude about marriage. Even as a kid, reading “Photoplay” magazine when my mother wasn’t looking, I was both appalled and held on the cusp of disbelief by her excesses. Other than National Velvet and the original Father of the Bride, I don’t think I ever watched one of her movies all the way through.
But, Lord, she was gorgeous. No amount of surgical enhancement will ever be able to replicate those violet eyes. The big hair that went out of favor with everyone else years ago never looked out of place on her.
When she was married to Eddie Fisher, I read an article about her in one of the “big” magazines of the day. (They really were big, too; Life, Look, and Saturday Evening Post had enough content to last you all afternoon.) She was getting ready to go somewhere and her feet were in pain from an illness or a surgery—I think she had all of them at one time or other—but she slipped them into spike heels, saying, “First things first.”
I didn’t agree with her about the shoes—I’m very fond of comfort—but it was a lesson in priorities. Sometimes all the i’s can’t be dotted or the t’s crossed, but you still need to go ahead and do what you have to do.
Another quote from her came from a talk show she was on once—I think it was probably Oprah. In a Q & A session, an audience participant asked her a personal question. Ms. Taylor just smiled demurely and said, “A lady never tells.”
Although her adventures in marriages, both her own and other people’s, precluded me thinking of her as a lady—at least defined in any way I understood—I have come to appreciate her response. I wish more celebrities would use it.
On the day of her death, someone called her the “greatest movie star.” I agree with that. No one, including Ms. Taylor herself, thought she was the greatest actress. But she was always the star. Today’s performers show up on red carpets with gazillions of dollars worth of borrowed jewelry and clothing, revealing all kinds of body parts. One of them even dropped the f-bomb when she accepted an Oscar. There are, it seems, no limits to what they will do to gain attention. All Elizabeth Taylor had to do was show up.
In her later years, she became a philanthropist and—I can’t think of a better way to put this—a friend. She probably did more toward the funding of AIDS research than nearly anyone else. She left her four children, all of whom grew up under the umbrella of her scandal-riddled life, a legacy of generosity, love, and kindness.
I think maybe I was wrong. She was, after all, a lady. Rest in peace, Elizabeth Taylor.
posted by Liz Flaherty # 8:06 AM
Elizabeth Taylor was always a conundrum to me. On the one hand she seemed flighty (I mean, really, who married 20 times?!?) and yet so grounded and down to earth (because what other star does what she did for charity?). Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Liz...great, as always! :)
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