I have loved the tributes to the incomparable Elizabeth Taylor this week and wanted to share some of the best. My friend Margo Howard has a priceless recollection of having Elizabeth Taylor as her babysitter. Dan Zak in the Washington Post asked movie critics and people who knew Miss Taylor to contribute their favorite memories and performances, and I was honored to be included. Adam Bernstein’s obituary in the Washington Post captured her beautifully. He described her as ” a voluptuous violet-eyed actress who lived a life of luster and anguish and spent more than six decades as one of the world’s most visible women for her two Academy Awards, eight marriages, ravaging illnesses and work in AIDS philanthropy.”
By her mid-20s, she had been a screen goddess, teenage bride, mother, divorcee and widow. She endured near-death traumas, and many declared her a symbol of survival — with which she agreed. “I’ve been through it all, baby,” she once said. “I’m Mother Courage.” News about her love affairs, jewelry collection, weight fluctuations and socializing in rich and royal circles were followed by millions of people. More than for any film role, she became famous for being famous, setting a media template for later generations of entertainers, models and all variety of semi-somebodies. She was the “archetypal star goddess,” biographer Diana Maddox once wrote.
Slate’s brilliant movie critic, Dana Stevens, wrote a perceptive appreciation of Miss Taylor as personality, actress, star, and woman: “She was at her best playing characters who inhabited their own bodies with a confident, careless pleasure…Even in her lowest moments onscreen and off, Elizabeth Taylor was always bursting to excess with life.” She also includes a link to Roger Ebert’s marvelous 1969 interview with Miss Taylor and Richard Burton. Ebert’s poignant Elizabeth Taylor tribute in the Wall Street Journal
Turner Classic Movies will have an all-day tribute on April 10. They’re all worth watching but be sure to set your DVR for the ones I’ve put in bold.
6 a.m. – Lassie Come Home (1943), with Roddy McDowall and Edmund Gwenn; directed by Fred M. Wilcox.
7:30 a.m. – National Velvet (1944), with Mickey Rooney, Anne Revere and Angela Lansbury; directed by Clarence Brown.
10 a.m. – Conspirator (1952), with Robert Taylor and Robert Flemyng; directed by Victor Saville.
11:30 a.m. – Father of the Bride (1950), with Spencer Tracy, Billie Burke, Joan Bennett and Don Taylor; directed by Vincente Minnelli.
1:15 a.m. – Father’s Little Dividend (1951), with Spencer Tracy, Billie Burke, Joan Bennett and Don Taylor; directed by Vincente Minnelli.
2:45 p.m. – Raintree County (1957), with Montgomery Clift, Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, Rod Taylor and Agnes Moorehead; directed by Edward Dmytryk.
6 p.m. – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), with Paul Newman and Burl Ives; directed by Richard Brooks.
8 p.m. – Butterfield 8 (1960), with Laurence Harvey and Eddie Fisher; directed by Daniel Mann.
10 p.m. – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), with Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis; directed by Mike Nichols.
12:30 a.m. – Giant (1956), with James Dean and Rock Hudson; directed by George Stevens.
4 a.m. – Ivanhoe (1952), with Robert Taylor and Joan Fontaine; directed by Richard Thorpe.