Hollywood icon Elizabeth Taylor died on March 23 of heart failure. The unpredictable actress was married eight times to seven husbands. She led a wild life, and amassed a treasure trove of jewelry along the way. She launched an entire era in Hollywood with her stunning beauty and talent. She was 79 years old.
Taylor’s beauty was exotic, with violet-blue eyes, a tender jawline and an exquisite figure. Her beauty was built on contrasts – velvety black hair and luminous pale skin, a tender smile on the lips and an insidious look in her eyes. Who could imagine the real Cleopatra as anything but a great beauty after Taylor played the role in the 1961 classic? Taylor is much more closely associated with the role than the brilliant Vivien Leigh, who also played the famous queen. For her performance, Taylor was paid the unparalleled fee of one million dollars. During filming, she fell in love with her co-star Richard Burton, who played Mark Anthony. They were married in 1964, starred in 11 movies together, got divorced and later remarried.
Their relationship was called “the love affair of the century.” Whenever Liz got married the media called it the “wedding of the century.” Burton and Taylor quarreled, went on benders, threw money around and starred in classic roles. In the 1966 classic “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” they played a husband and wife who can’t live with or without each other. Liz received an Oscar for best actress for her performance as Martha.
The relationship off-screen was equally torrid. Liz called Burton the center of her life, but their fights were legendary. Burton bought her La Peregrina, one of the most sought-after pearls in the world. But this wasn’t a big deal for Liz – she had more precious stones than any movie star in Hollywood. She was a queen, on camera and off.
Taylor was Tennessee Williams’s favorite actress. She played the female lead, Maggie, in the 1958 film “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Maggie purred and talked sweet to her husband and family, but she had claws, too. Who could have played the role of this unpredictable and irresistible woman better than Liz with her feline grace?
Maggie’s defining trait is her stamina – something Taylor also had in abundance. As Maggie says, “Life has got to be allowed to continue even after the dream of life is all over.” Liz knew this only too well, having experienced her fair share of disappointments.
The death of Mike Todd, her husband in the pre-Burton period, was one of the great tragedies in her life. Todd was a successful Hollywood producer. He hosted lavish parties for his premiers, with huge tanks filled with champagne, elephant shows, and loads of movie stars partying for days on end. Mike and Liz provided reporters with plenty of juicy news; they made no secret of their passion for each other. Love like this only strikes once in a lifetime if you’re lucky. Mike died in a plane crash. He had given the plane, “Lucky Liz”, to his wife as a gift.
Liz rose from the ashes of her grief like a Phoenix, and married the singer Eddie Fisher for a short time, destroying Eddie’s previous marriage in the process. With Richard Burton, Liz got a second chance at a great love affair. But he was her last. She was involved in intrigues and quiet friendships with men (for instance, Michael Jackson), but nothing like the fierce love that simultaneously inspired and destroyed the souls of these great actors.
In 1989, Liz starred in “Sweet Bird of Youth”, a made-for-TV movie based on Tennessee Williams’ play. Her character Alexandra Del Lago, an aging actress, mourns her lost youth. Unlike her character, however, Liz was not worried about getting old or looking tired and disappointed; she was afraid of getting sick. In 1997, she had a brain tumor removed, and several years later she was treated for skin cancer. But no matter her age, there was always a youthful spark in her eyes, and that same radiant smile on her face. Liz did not act much in her later life, but her star never faded.
Fans often contrast Elizabeth Taylor with Marilyn Monroe. The blonde’s smile was tempting but inviting: “Take me, I’m available.” The brunette’s smile said: “Take me if you dare…” Monroe played simple, spontaneous characters, while Taylor portrayed temperamental and complex women who experienced the full range of human emotions, from tender love to hatred.
Liz Taylor was Shakespeare’s Katharine in Franco Zeffirelli’s film “The Taming of the Shrew, alongside Richard Burton as Petruchio, in 1967. She was explosive, vivacious and stubborn. She followed her emotions, and made love the second calling of her life. Acting remained the first.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.