ELIZABETH TAYLOR February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011: One of the most famous movie stars ever, and that's not hyperbole, but a reflection of the amount of front-page news Taylor generated following her death.
Elizabeth Taylor, AKA "Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor" born on February 27, 1931 in London, England. Won Best Actress Oscars for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966) and Butterfield 8 (1960). Nominated for Best Actress 1957 for Raintree County, 1958 for Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, and 1959 for Suddenly, Last Summer. Died March 23, 2011.
She began working in Hollywood at the age of 10 (There's One Born Every Minute, 1942), and became an immediate star after "National Velvet" (1944). She grew up within the studio system, but her gossip-column fame easily transcended Hollywood celebrity once the studios crumbled into freelance companies during the early 1960s, and copious newsprint attention was paid to her yearly until her death. She died of congestive heart failure at the age of 79.
Written by Dana Stevens, this quick overview at salon.com of Taylor's life and films makes several good succinct points, also provides a trove of good links to other Elizabeth Taylor items that are on the internet.
"In a tribute to Taylor that aired on Turner Classic Movies, Paul Newman called her a "functional voluptuary." It wasn't just in roles like Cleopatra—or the debutante Angela Vickers in A Place in the Sun (1951), a woman so unattainably desirable she drives Montgomery Clift's character to murder—that Taylor had something of the odalisque about her. Long after she had stopped being a box-office draw, Taylor remained a gossip-magazine blockbuster, not just for her beauty and wealth—all starlets have that—but for her extravagant and freely displayed appetites: for food, drink, sex, husbands, jewels, pets. The Kalizma, the yacht she owned with Richard Burton and lived on for long stretches, was overrun with unhousebroken Pekingeses and, in one journalist's memorable retelling, a small, terrified African primate known as a bush baby."
See an assortment of 58 newspaper and web site obituary notices from around the world. Click to view here.
[Below: Internationally famous for her long career in films that played around the world, her death was front page news seemingly everywhere. Below, front page of the Taipei Taiwan Daily Newspaper on March 24, 2011.]
The death announcement at the UK Daily Mail mentions the reputed Elizabeth Taylor diary or actual completed autobiography that may exist for posthumous publication:
She kept handwritten diaries through much of her life and was said to have discussed a deal to publish them as an explosive memoir following her death.
Doctors were said to be hopeful that she could return to her Bel Air mansion just days before her long-term congestive heart problem took a dramatic turn for the worse.
Her death comes exactly 53 years after she was widowed when third husband, film producer Michael Todd, died in a plane crash.
Dame Elizabeth turned 79 on February 27 but celebrated with her friends and family a month early as ten days later she was admitted to hospital to undergo surgery to repair a leaky heart valve.
...Dame Elizabeth had struggled with her health for a number of years - and towards the end of her life was confined to a wheelchair.
She broke her back at least five times, had three bouts of pneumonia of which one, in 1961, required a tracheotomy, and another, in 1990, nearly killed her.
There were two hip-replacement operations and surgery to remove a benign golf ball-sized brain tumour, plus two stays at the Betty Ford clinic.
There are shelves of books written about Elizabeth Taylor, some of them are:
Elizabeth: The Life of Elizabeth Taylor By Alexander Walker
Paperback: 448 pages, Published by Grove Press (July 10, 2001)
ISBN-10: 0802137695, ISBN-13: 978-0802137692
How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood By William J Mann
Paperback: 528 pages, Published by Mariner Books (2010)
ISBN-10: 9780547386560, ISBN-13: 978-0547386560
Camille Paglia on the "A luscious, opulent, ripe fruit" of Elizathbeth Taylor
March 23, 2011
Paglia has a retrospective on Elizabeth Taylor which emphasizes the changes in Hollywood that have occurred over the decades, and particularly how Elizabeth Taylor has transcended current trends, and how that contrast makes modern female film stars look (from Salon online):
"To me, Elizabeth Taylor's importance as an actress was that she represented a kind of womanliness that is now completely impossible to find on the U.S. or U.K. screen. It was rooted in hormonal reality -- the vitality of nature. She was single-handedly a living rebuke to postmodernism and post-structuralism, which maintain that gender is merely a social construct. Let me give you an example. Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are All Right" is a truly wonderful film, but Julianne Moore and Annette Bening -- who is fabulous in it and should have won the Oscar for her portrayal of a prototypical contemporary American career woman -- were painfully scrawny to look at on the screen. This is the standard starvation look that is now projected by Hollywood women stars -- a skeletal, Pilates-honed, anorexic silhouette, which has nothing to do with females as most of the world understands them. There's something almost android about the depictions of women currently being projected by Hollywood.
...Taylor was a tough broad. She had survival instincts. And that's another thing about her, the way she could bounce back from all her tragedies and near-death experiences and draw on her suffering in her acting. Who could forget when she was near death from pneumonia in London in 1961? There were dramatic pictures of her being carried out on a stretcher, when she had an emergency tracheotomy. Then she bounces right back and gets the Oscar! That was one of the great television nights of my entire life, as I watched the Academy Awards and was praying and praying she would win. Then she goes up to the podium with her bosom exposed and her throat bare, with no bandages, not even a band-aid, so everyone could see the scar, and says in a frail, breathy voice, "Thank you so much." I was delirious!"
[Screen shot of obit notice at Time Magazine News Feed online.]
"Hollywood movie legend Elizabeth Taylor has died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure, her publicist announced on Wednesday. She was 79."
In Suddenly, Last Summer , Taylor is in a lunatic asylum where she's been hidden to keep her from "babbling" about what happened to Cousin Sebastian, the faceless lecher who used his mother Violet Venable (Katherine Hepburn) and then cousin Catherine Holly (Taylor) to attract young men. Read the review here.
Original page: March 2011. Updated July 2013