OH LIZ! Part One

Elizabeth Taylor in 1956 photographed by Richard Avedon for Look Magazine

Now before you go on, please take a second to look at this  and then use the voice while you read this post:

Liz Taylor defined an era.

She was an untouchable force in Old Hollywood; no one was as beautiful, as sought-after,  as famous or as controversial as she.  She was a star that appears  and is never forgoten.  She was everything, and to this day her legacy is still untouchable.

I have loved Elizabeth Taylor ever since I can remember- one of my earliest memories is watching “Anthony and Cleopatra” with my grandparents. It was breathtaking, she was perfect and has fascinated me ever since.  Her whirl- wind romances, exquisite gowns, collection of jewels, her rare violet eyes, her star verve…. she struck me as something that only occurs in stories and she’s captivated me for years.

With the three-year anniversary of Ms. Taylor’s passing coming up in a few days (March 23rd), I decided to write a little bit of a tribute in memorial.

A 15-year old Elizabeth Taylor on the cover of LIFE Magazine, July 1947

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27th, 1932 in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, to expatriate American parents.  Her mother was a retired stage-actress and her father was an art dealer.  The family lived in England until 1939, when they moved back to the United States in order to avoid the hostilities of World War II.  They settled in Los Angeles, California where her father established a new art gallery using the paintings he sourced in England.  This gallery soon attracted the attention of many celebrities and gained extensive notoriety, earning the Taylor family direct access into Hollywood’s exclusive society of wealth and privilege.

Elizabeth Taylor’s breathtaking beauty was apparent even as a child.  Her mother was constantly urged to have her screen-tested for movie rolls but her mother refused since the notion of a child-actress was an alien to her.  She finally relented and Elizabeth was signed to Universal Pictures in a seven-year contract.  Elizabeth made only one movie with Universal, 1942’s “There’s One Born Every Minute”, and the studio released her from the contract after only one year.  In 1943 she signed a contract with MGM to appear in 1943’s “Lassie Come Home”. She stayed with the studio throughout the duration of her career as a child- and an adolescent-star, and during her transition to adult roles, leaving only after her contract with them ran out in 1961.  Her role in MGM’s “National Velvet” (1944) made her the studio’s top child star, a success that strengthened during her adolescence when she was cast in movies such as “Life With Father” (1947), “Julia Misbehaves”(1948) and “Little Women” (1949).

Elizabeth Taylor in late 1949, on the set of “A Place in the Sun” (1951)

Her transition into adult roles was considered an easy one as she appeared to be much older than she really was, this is why at 16 she landed the role of Mary Belney, a 21-year old debutante in 1950’s “The Big Hangover”. The film failed, but Liz went onto achieve financial success in films such as “Father of the Bride” (1950) and it’s sequel “Father’s Little Dividend” (1951).    It was in 1951 that she also received critical acclaim, when she portrayed Angela Vickers in the film noir “A Place in the Sun” that was shot in 1949. She went on to star in films such as “Love Is Better Than Ever” (1952), “Ivanhoe” (1952), “Rhapsody” (1954) and “The Last Time I Saw Paris”(1954).

However, it was during this period, late 1951-1956, Elizabeth found herself frustrated at the roles she was being offered in tedious, forgettable films.  She wanted to portray more substantial and challenging leads but was only offered roles based on her beauty and sexuality. Motivated, she set about to change her direction.

In 1957, she played Leslie Benedict in the epic film “Giant” a role that won her a Golden Globe award and marked the beginning of an extremely successful period in her career.

Elizabeth Taylor in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958)

Following “Giant”, Elizabeth Taylor was nominated for Academy Awards four years in a row for her roles in “Raintree Country” (1957), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958), “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959) and “Butterfield 8” (1960).  She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1960 for her role as Gloria Wanderlust in “Butterfield 8.”

Then came 1963’s “Anthony and Cleopatra”. Playing the female lead, Cleopatra, Liz Taylor became a household name and was catapulted into the stratosphere of enduring Hollywood fame.

Liz would win another Academy Award in 1966 for her role as Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”  She was also nominated for a BAFTA for her portrayal of Katharina in the 1967 adaption of “The Taming of the Shrew”

Liz Taylor in “Ash Wednesday” (1973)

After 1967,  Liz’s career began to slow, but public fascination in her life, loves and movements continued.  She appeared in films such as “Boom!” (1968) and “Under Milk Wood” (1972), and she began to work in television, in TV-films like 1973’s “Divorce His, Divorce Hers”.  She won a Golden Globe Award for her role as Barbabra Sawyer in 1773’s “Ash Wednesday”.  She continued to work in television in the 1980s and 1990s, doing TV-films and making guest appearances on television shows and miniseries’ like “General Hospital” and “North and South.”

Liz in “The Nanny!” (1996)

One of her final television appearances was in 1996 when she guest-starred on “The Nanny” (I’m sure everyone remembers this episode-Fran lost her pearl necklace-if you don’t, check the YouTube clip below!), after which she devoted her time to charity work.  In 2006, she appeared in her final role in TV’s “These Old Broads”, starring opposite Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds and Joan Collins.

 

Oh Liz!

Now, as this is a fashion blog, and a Liz Taylor post, we have to talk about the fashion.  However, this post long enough so we’ll chat tomorrow.  Can’t wait!

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