Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, R.I.P.

I was on my way to a doctor's appointment this morning when I got a text from my friend Ashley stating that Elizabeth Taylor had died. I was a little surprised, largely because Liz T. has been ill for so long now it seems like she would have to be immune to death. Still, I know that's impossible, and the last images of her foreground her fragility.

She's not a star whose work I know that well--and she's certainly not a star of the studio age or golden era of Hollywood--other than as a child star or teenager. Instead she embodied that 50s post-Paramount Decree era when the studios weren't quite sure what they were going to become and exploded into larger than life or low-key, low-budget offerings. Taylor really epitomized the latter, with her Technicolor looks, before she became the star of the 50s biggest soap opera--the Eddie Fischer/Debbie Reynolds/Liz Taylor triangle. Then there was the 60-70s melodrama with Richard Burton--again, her image was bigger than most of her roles, two Oscars notwithstanding. The heady mix of gay activism, HIV fundraising, divorces, health problems, surgeries, Michael Jackson friendship, various weight gains and losses were always perhaps more triumphant than any acting, no matter how fine (and, yes, she could act)--and more compelling, making her one of the giants of both star and celebrity culture, as well as one of the iconic beauties of her time.

In that little corner of the internet where camp is always queen, you can find a perfect appreciation from my dear friend Ben who carried his own, hand embellished, White Diamonds bag. I think both of them--and their creator--would be most strongly appreciated by Miss Taylor, another reason why it is worth pausing to remember her and her legacy.

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