Thursday, March 24, 2011
Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)
Hollywood sparkles less tonight and perhaps permanently with the passing of one of truest, greatest, ripest and richest movie stars that ever existed. Where would one begin to start on her legacy on cinema. As the youngster who first made her mark in National Velvet (1944), or the goddess who claimed such classics as A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956) and the Tennessee Williams' classics Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959); silly Production Code be damned, this woman had such raw sensuality, beauty and talent that ignited any screen, not matter the size (I've only been privileged to see these massive films on the small screen!), or the grand goddess acting without a net in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1996.) Or do we start with the Richard Burton years, which not only provided a great Hollywood love affair (Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had nothing on them), as well as wonderful dripping films, all of which seemed a commentary on their relationship at the time-- tempestuous, passionate, aggressive, hostile and loving-- my personal favorite is their interplay in The Taming of the Shrew (1967.) Or do start with the disaster that was Cleopatra (1963), which at the time nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox, and still managed to get nominated for Best Picture. Or her eight husbands, one of which-- Eddie Fischer-- was stolen right from Debbie Reynolds! Or her beloved diamonds, her humanitarian efforts fighting against AIDS when it truly was brave; damn Reagon era screwed everything up! Or her friendship with Michael Jackson. Or the wondrous movie land chemistry she shared with Montgomery Clift, proving once and forever they don't make like they used to. Or her two Oscar wins (the first for Butterfield 8 (1960), a film she publicly rejected and famously won the award while showing off her tracheotomy scar, the second for Virginia Woolf, a landmark if ever there was one.)
My first encounters with La Taylor were auspicious, due mostly to my age, not taste-- it was The Flintstones (1994), and her brief voice work as Maggie on The Simpsons (she just sweetly said, "Daddy." But Hollywood has lost a legend, and the overwhelming sadness will last a while, I'm afraid. Do oneself a favor and check out her glorious filmography, and treasure it, for she was more than a gossip fixture, husband stealer, and wirey Golden Globe presenter...she was a goddess.