Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Rest In Peace, Elizabeth Taylor
I awoke this morning to the news that screen legend Elizabeth Taylor had died. According to NPR, "A publicist told The Associated Press that Taylor died of congestive heart failure at a Los Angeles hospital. She was 79."
As someone born in 1960, I grew up seeing Taylor's movies on television. I remember Lassie Go Home and National Velvet, and also her adult movies. The latter were often presented as big television events with an announcer saying very seriously something like, "Don't miss the world television premiere of the year, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton star in Cleopatra!" Back then major motion picutres would come on TV a couple of years after they had been in theaters. I'm surprised when I view the list of her movies on IMBD at how many I've seen.
I also grew up hearing about her marriages and scandals in household conversation. She was married eight times, twice to Richard Burton, and once she married Debbie Reyonold's husband Eddie Fisher, father of Carrie Fisher. Reynolds and Taylor were known as close friends at the time, and some movie fans held the break-up of the Fisher-Reynolds marriage against Taylor for years. However, Debbie Reynolds, who was on Oprah in February, seems to have healed. She blamed Fisher, who she appeared to suggest had taken advantage of Taylor, who fell into his arms after the love of her life, first husband Mike Todd, was killed in a plane crash. Later in life Taylor's off-again-on-again relationship with Richard Burton seemed equally passionate.
Despite her romantic life raging like a roller coaster, Taylor had the reputation of being a loyal friend. She took up AIDS as her cause, raising money to find a cure, after watching friend and fellow movie star Rock Hudson battle the disease and eventually lose that battle. I also recall that she was fiercely protective of Michael Jackson, another dear friend of hers. I think she felt connected to him because she understood the pressures of being a child star as he had been.
Liz Taylor was a fascinating woman and gifted actress, and she was so much a part of American culture, I all but forgot that she was born in Great Britain. May she rest in peace.