Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Beauty Beyond Compare, Elizabeth Taylor
I can recall, even in 1944, sitting in the cavernous theatre in my hometown, watching “National Velvet” and thinking that Elizabeth Taylor was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. As I grew older I continued to think of her in terms of her stunning beauty, only gradually realizing that she was also an excellent actress.
She was rather fearless, taking on roles whose characters had all the human flaws of character, but who were never boring. She could be forgiven everything for being so beautiful.
Her seven marriages, twice to Richard Burton, had a tragic quality as she seemed to be on an endless search for true love. Being larger than life seemed to be a curse.
Along the way we tended to forget she had four children, ten grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. How could a goddess be a mother and grandmother? But she was and a good friend to many fellow performers.
In Hollywood where beautiful women were its stock-in-trade, Taylor endured and triumphed.
For those of her generation like myself, her death comes as a reminder of our own mortality, but her film career ensures she will live on beyond mere life.
Few actresses of her era will be recalled in a similar fashion, despite their own body of work. There were those as talented, as prolific, but none as memorable for nothing less than a face that every camera loved.
One thinks of the iconic Marilyn Monroe, but her quality was one of pure sensuality that obscured her talent whereas Taylor brought not just heat, but a seriousness to her roles that demanded that you pay attention to Maggie in “A Cat On a Hot Tin Roof” and her role in "Raintree County."
I think my generation was fortunate to have shared its life with Elizabeth Taylor and with films of real substance such as “A Place in the Sun”, “Butterfield 8”, and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
The characters she brought to life on the screen were not cartoons, but flesh and blood women. They will live on as we pay tribute to the real flesh and blood Elizabeth Taylor.
© Alan Caruba