I loved Elizabeth Taylor.
Although Elizabeth Taylor was already middle-aged before I was actually conscience of her (or anything), as a child I loved watching her old films on television. I’m not sure if it was those famous violet eyes or perhaps it was those 1950s torpedo breasts, but I found her spellbinding.
Elizabeth Taylor was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
So your humble blogger could certainly see why Montgomery Clift would toss dowdy working girl Shelley Winters out of that rowboat to drown in the middle of a lake so he could have the glamourous Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun.
I would have too!
And it wasn’t just her beauty that enchanted me, though that was certainly part of it. Even when she was made up to look like an overweight harpy in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf you simply could not take your eyes off Elizabeth Taylor when she was on the screen. It’s amusing to see her in Cleopatra with (perhaps) the best actors in the world, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison and seeing how neither of these great actors could match her when she was in a scene. Your eyes just moved to her.
It took Paul Newman (one of the most handsome men in the world) to finally give her a run for her money in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof… but still it was the curvaceous Liz in a slip that upstaged even Newman’s blue eyes. And when you can make a gay man take his eyes off Paul Newman you’ve got something special!
Elizabeth Taylor must have learned in her early Lassie Come Home and National Velvet days at MGM how to make the camera work for her. She knew how to be a star.
As I grew older and learned of her life, marriages, divorces, widowhood etc. Elizabeth Taylor became even more fascinating to me. Remember how horrible you thought it was when you heard for the first time that Mike Todd had died flying in a plane called ‘The Liz’? And she would have been on it if she hadn’t been ill? Her life was the stuff of a movie.
And you had to forgive her for the whole Eddie Fisher thing.
And in those days before gay men were able to be proudly out of the closet, Elizabeth Taylor was a great beard. Her gay friends included Roddy McDowall, Monty Clift, Rock Hudson, and Malcolm Forbes. And her love for her gay friends drove her to be one of the first celebrities (certainly the biggest) to help with AIDS related charities. Elizabeth Taylor would help start AmFar and also her own foundation, The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, raising millions for AIDS research.
Elizabeth Taylor was a friend to gays and gays loved her in return.
Recently she started using twitter to keep her fans informed (using the twitter ID, @DameElizabeth). And true to Liz fashion, she was (like many of us) disgusted by Prop8. In a tweet from May28, 2009 she wrote:
I think it’s terrible for the California govt to retract the law on Gay Marriage after they made it legal. You can’t treat people that way!
No, they certainly shouldn’t treat people that way.
But what I think I loved most about Elizabeth Taylor was her love for life. Anyone who loves food, sex, wine and laughing as much as she did must also have loved life. And by all accounts she was an outstanding mother as well. Taylor was a bona fide ‘earth mother’.
So having seen her beat death so many times, I almost believed that Elizabeth Taylor could live forever.
And now that she’s gone… I believe she will.
Jeffrey, The Gay Groom