Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)
By Alex Cranz
Elizabeth Taylor. Stepmother to half of Hollywood. The other half? Probably slept with them. She was the Angelina Jolie of the 50s and 60s. Her face was on every tabloid. Her films opened big on her name alone.
Cleopatra? The only film to win the year’s box office and STILL lose money.
Giant? People like to remember James Dean but it was the work of Taylor and Rock Hudson that make that film good.
A Place in the Sun? She was the only girl Montgomery Clift would kill for.
National Velvet? Okay I actually hate this film for personal reasons, but she’s pretty adorable.
In BUtterfield 8, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and Suddenly, Last Summer she plays utterly broken women and she plays them big and bold and without restraint. In Raintree County and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof she plays passionate wives desperate to hold onto what little respect and love they’ve earned in life. And again, she’s never afraid to play things big even when the style of acting was starting to veer away from the melodrama Taylor nailed so well. There’s a fearlessness in Taylor’s acting that seems almost at odds with her beauty, and if you try to tell me that you don’t find her empirically gorgeous then something’s wrong.
A lot of people will remember Taylor for her many very public affairs/marriages. But it was her love for the underdog that I remember best. No matter your own beliefs regarding Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor never stopped publically supporting him.
And when Montgomery Clift was slowly drinking himself to death in front of the press it was Elizabeth Taylor who stood by his side. She was the one that kept pulling him back from the brink to appear in film after film. The two were supposed to make a film together in ’66 but the studios refused to employ him. Taylor put her own, considerable, salary up as insurance.
Taylor wasn’t the “last of the Golden Age” but she was certainly one of its brightest stars.