Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
"OCTAVIAN, WHEN I am ready to die, I will die."
Well, yesterday morning,
MANY YEARS ago, around the time of her 40th birthday bacchanal, Elizabeth declared "I'm Mother Courage. I'll be dragging my sable coat behind me into old age!" Of course,
Professionally, she progressed from the child with the adult face who cuddled horses and dogs ... the pristine, tiny-waisted sylph of "Father of the Bride" and "A Place in the Sun" ... the voluptuous dramatic heroine of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Suddenly Last Summer" and "Butterfield 8" ... the implausible ruler of ancient
It was her incredible public/private life that kept Elizabeth's image afloat.
She seemed, at her height, to be intent on destroying herself, but the public couldn't get enough of this short, stocky woman who dressed so badly and took other women's husbands. Scandal enhanced her.
When the Liz n' Dick soap opera ended in 1976, she went off and married a staid Republican,
When she got fat during that marriage, it was as if she no longer had the right to live in this country anymore.
When she lost weight everybody fell at her feet again.
She triumphed on
She was rehabbed at Betty Ford, twice.
She created fragrances that brought her more money than her film career.
I was the only reporter invited to Elizabeth's marriage to
AND IT was her genius for life, and her love of life and her genuine compassion that led to the most important role of her life -- becoming the name and face of the AIDS fight. Once she had shouldered the burden of raising funds and consciousness, it seemed a perfect fit -- ordinary stars did charity for ordinary diseases. AIDS, the horrifying mystery ailment, had to land in Taylor's hands. Who else could drag 'em in, get the attention and say what needed to be said?
In days to come, I will write of some of my personal experiences with Elizabeth, starting with our fateful first encounter at the La Grande Cascade restaurant in
And so I want to end this column, quoting Elizabeth herself. Not long ago, she told me, "Liz, every scandal, terrible headline, intrusive paparazzi, every lie -- everything I came to hate about my fame -- now I am so grateful for. Without all that, I never would have been able to do what I have been able to do for AIDS. Fame means nothing. It stopped having meaning for me many years ago. I thought it was absurd that I was still famous, that people still wanted to look at me or write about me.
"Then I saw what was happening with AIDS. That nobody was doing anything. But maybe I could. And I did. And why? Because of my ridiculous fame. My name still meant something. People wanted to pay big money to see if I was fat or had violet eyes or whatever. Bring it on, I thought. And I thanked God that my fame and my life had finally made sense."
That was the essence of Elizabeth. And it is what I will miss, along with her great sense of humor, not to mention the glamour and fame she often laughed at.
Rest in peace,
Film Legend Elizabeth Taylor Dead at 79
Elizabeth Taylor (1932 - 2011)
Elizabeth Taylor, the true Star of Stars passed away today at the age of 79. Congestive heart failure claimed her.
The Movie Star Deluxe - Elizabeth Taylor
YOU SEE, she didn't care about being a star. She cared about living a certain way. It was what she was used to. And she lived that grand life with Burton and thought they'd have it forever. That's what was most important to her: to have a great companion in her great life ... it was all about being with him. That's all that really mattered.
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