A Place in the Sun for Elizabeth Taylor

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor 1932 - 2011

Following the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, a Facebook friend posted, “So, Elizabeth Taylor was the Angelina Jolie of her day, with stealing folk’s husbands and all.” 

Okay, at eight marriages it’s fair to say Liz Taylor really liked wedding cake but she became a Hollywood icon the hard way: by building herself into one.   Angelina Jolie became the standard others are compared to by virtue of a lack of competition.   It’s like Liz was Muhammad Ali and Angelina is Larry Holmes.   The reining champion only because there was nobody else to claim the title. 

I replied, “Elizabeth Taylor was All-Woman. Angelina Jolie is a tattooed vampire who feeds off the blood of her multiracial brood and has sucked the soul right out of Brad “P-Whipped” Pitt.”

Angelina couldn’t snap Liz’s bra strap. 

When I think of a Star with a capital “S” I don’t think of Jolie, Jennifer Aniston or any other skin and bones stick figure some Hollywood producer keeps shoving into forgettable movies and are only two steps up on the hotness scale from the last pretty waitress who took my drink order at Friday’s.  My idea of a real movie star is someone who is glamorous, sensual, gorgeous and has a presence that makes all heads turn and all conversation stops when they enter the room. 

Liz Taylor had all that in abundance and she did it old-fashioned way: she worked at it.  Throw in the fact she could act too, she personifies the iconic Hollywood beauty; a gene pool dying out and one not being replenished much these days. 

Oh, and she was a sexy beast too.  As a species, women don’t get much hotter than Taylor.  She won her first Best Actress Oscar playing a prostitute in Butterfield 8, a movie she despised and her second for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? where she is absolutely devastating as the decidedly unglamorous Martha, a drunken lush with an evil tongue and a dark secret (Taylor packed on 30 pounds to play the part).   Virginia Woolf is the only film to be nominated for an Oscar in every category it was eligible for.    

The last of the movie stars?

There are still plenty of beautiful women and some of them even make movies.  But too many seem similar in form and feature, smaller in scale and more manufactured than real.   There’s nothing remotely larger than life about a Meryl Streep or Julia Roberts.    

To paraphrase Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Elizabeth Taylor was always big. It’s what qualifies as a “movie star” these days that gotten smaller. 

One by one the true giants of their craft are leaving us. Before he passed on, the great Paul Newman paid homage to the his Cat On A Hot Tin Roof co-star.

Game recognizes game and we’re unlikely to see their type pass our way again.     

Not when people compare Angelina Jolie to Elizabeth Taylor without realizing how much that elevates Jolie and reduces Taylor. 

George Carlin once quipped that life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the moments that take your breath away.  Despite the many misfortunes that befell Taylor over her 79 years, she certainly gave many people reason to exhale then inhale deeply.  

Requiescat in pace, Elizabeth.  We shall not soon see your kind again.