Elizabeth Taylor, one of the few true living Hollywood legends passed away today at the age of 79 from congestive heart failure. Having been ill for the past several years, she had spent the last month in a Los Angeles hospital. Taylor, who began her acting career as a child actor in the 1940s, went on to win commercial and critical acclaim as an actress, as well as becoming an astute business woman.
Her film career encompassed a nearly 60 year span and included classic films such as Giant, A Place in the Sun, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, among many others. She was nominated for 5 Academy Awards and won twice for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in Butterfield 8 and her electrifying performance as Martha opposite then husband Richard Burton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
Her career and elegance as a leading actress made her one of the top billing actresses of the 1950s and 1960s. For Cleopatra in 1963, she became the first actress to receive one million dollars for a film role. However, unfortunately, her private life became as much news as her public roles with several tumultuous affairs and multiple marriages (eight in all, twice to actor Richard Burton).
In addition to her acting career, Taylor also helmed a successful business with her perfume line which included “Passion”, “White Diamonds” and “Black Pearls”, as well as being a lifelong lover and collector of diamonds.
There aren’t really any actresses these days that stand on the same legendary platform as Taylor, especially during her heyday. As one article put it, “it’s the end of an era”, and I don’t think they could be more right in saying so. The style and ability that exuded from the top actresses of Taylor’s era is something that is much more unachievable in our globally connected world.
Now, that being said, I am not one to place much merit on glitz, glamour and star status. What I will remember Elizabeth Taylor for is her screen performances; in spite of her larger-than-life public status, she was an amazing actress who’s abilities far out-weighed any other facet of her career. She could perform loving, kind, caring, restrained, electrifying, mad, maniacal and so many other emotions with exacting precision; her legacy of films is testament to her amazing abilities. She will be missed, but her screen legacy will live on.