The legendary Dame Elizabeth Taylor has died, and an era has passed with her. Movies were a new invention in the twentieth century, and Elizabeth came to be epitomized the supreme ideal of the Movie Star. She was also an excellent actress and even tried her hand at stage plays toward the end of career. I can still remember seeing Cleopatra and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in the movie theater. They are amazing films and she is mesmerizing in them. I recommend the biography Elizabeth by J. Randy Taraborrelli if you’d like to know more about her life as a woman, actress, and star.
Taraborrelli admits that writing a biography nowadays that people will actually read is a challenge, but he has succeeded admirably here. Those of you too young to have seen Cleopatra or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ? during their original theater runs will be entranced by the antics of “Liz & Dick”—they make “Brangelina” look tame by comparison. On a beach in Italy during a huge rainstorm that halted the filming of Cleopatra, an eyewitness reported that:
“Richard grabbed Elizabeth’s hand and pulled her toward the plaster façade of a palace wall, climbed a painter’s ladder and reached into a bucket. From it he retrieved an open bottle of wine. . . [They] passed the bottle back and forth, laughing almost the entire time, passionately kissing.”
At that time they were both married to other people! In spite of these escapades, Taylor and Burton achieved academy-award level performances in many of their films . They had a blinding beauty and screen presence that outshines most of today’s movie actors.
Taraborrelli gives us an entertaining story, yet he extensively researched for accuracy, creating a work of historical significance. The author maintains that Dame Elizabeth privately gave permission for people close to her to speak freely to him. As with any unauthorized biography, the highs and lows of Taylor’s life are equally displayed, but his great admiration for this film icon is evident.