Friday, April 8, 2011

a violet-eyed fury worth remembering.

here i am again, binge bloggin' the backblog.
& i'm not sure why.

i've got plenty of blog fodder backed up
& ready to be written.
i just haven't gotten around to it.
& i'm not sure why.

sure, there's the whole "full life" thing,
but . . . well, it's full. & it's good.
& i love it [mostly].

& i love my blog, so here i am. again.
prepare for a parade of posts.

let's begin with a bang -
an homage to a woman whose whole life was one big bang
[no double-entendre intended].

dame elizabeth rosemond taylor.
[please don't call her liz. she never liked it.]

she was larger than life & just as beautiful.

born in 1932, to american parents on british soil,
giving this violet-eyed girl dual citizenship
to match her double rows of eyelashes
[a genetic mutation that sure worked for her].

she moved to los angeles at age 7,
made her cinematic debut at age 9,
& shot to stardom at age 12 for her role as velvet brown in national velvet.

her last adolescent role was as amy in 1949's little women.
her first adult role was as kay in 1950's the father of the bride.
her game-changing role as a dramatic actress
was as angela in 1951's a place in the sun.

she won best-actress oscars for 1960's butterfield 8
[starring opposite husband #4, eddie fisher] &
for 1966's who's afraid of virginia woolf
[starring opposite husband #5/6, richard burton].

she was nominated three other times.

she was the first hollywood star
to earn a million-dollar paycheck,
for 1963's cleopatra.

at 50, she transitioned from screen to stage
for the 1982 revival of the little foxes.
the following year, she reunited with burton,
professionally, to do noel coward's private lives.

[insert obvious "private life" segue here.]

eight marriages, seven husbands &
who knows how many in-betweeners.

the official lineup:

1. conrad "nicky" hilton, jr. - married 1950-51.
she was 18. he was an heir. he beat her. she left him.
2. michael wilding - married 1952-57.
english actor 20 years her senior. they had two sons.
3. mike todd - married 1957-58.
producer 23 years her senior. her first true love. they had one daughter. his plane, the ironically monikered lucky liz, crashed, leaving her at widow at 26.
4. eddie fisher - married 1959-64.
popular singer, a friend of mike todd's & the husband of debbie reynolds. disregarding the scandal, elizabeth converted to judaism for him, & stayed a jew the rest of her life. her jewish name was elisheba rachel.

5/6. richard burton - married 1964-74 & 1975-76.
welsh actor & her greatest love. they were both married when they hooked up on the set of cleopatra [he was marc antony, natch]. their romance was a decade-plus-long headline of brawls, booze & bling. they adopted one daughter.
7. john warner - married 1976-82.
u.s. senator from virginia. the rather lonely life of a political wife didn't agree with her, & triggered her struggle with weight.
8. larry fortensky - married 1991-96.
construction worker. they met at betty ford & married at neverland ranch. clearly, a doomed union from the get-go.

she amassed a collection of jewelry worth over $150 million.
she received some noteworthy pieces from mike todd,
but richard burton was the man who gave her
the 33.19-carat krupp diamond,
which she wore as a ring the rest of her life, &
the 69.42-carat pear-shaped taylor-burton diamond,
which she eventually sold, using the money
to build a botswana hospital.

she designed a line of perfumes that grosses about $200 million annually:
passion, white diamonds, black pearls & violet eyes.

she was among the first a-listers to come out
in the public fight against hiv/aids.
she helped launch the american foundation for aids research
[amfar] in 1985, &
in 1991, created her own organization,
the elizabeth taylor aids foundation.

the academy honored her work in 1993
with the jean hersholt humanitarian award.
queen elizabeth ii appointed her in 1999
dame commander of the order of the british empire.

she loved animals.
her first horse's name was an iteration of her own: betty.
she always had canine companions.
she once had a pet chipmunk named nibbles.

she was the voice of maggie simpson,
uttering the baby's one & only word: "daddy."

she arranged to be 15 minutes late for her own funeral.

she survived
five back breaks
three hip replacements
two bouts of life-threatening pneumonia
two stints at rehab
an emergency tracheotomy
a benign brain tumor
cardiac surgery &
skin cancer.

but finally, at the age of 79,
she fell to the congestive heart failure
she had been fending off for seven years.

she left behind her four children,
ten grandchildren & four great-grandchildren.

she tweeted under the name dameelizabeth.
among her final twitter posts was this:

give. remember always to give.
that is the thing that will make you grow.
that is the thing that will give back to you
all the rewards that there are.
don't do it for yourself, because then it becomes selfish.
because then it becomes about yourself...which is wrong.
giving is to give to god. helping is to help others.
every breath you take today should be
with someone else in mind. i love you.

elizabeth taylor knew what she liked & she went for it:
working. loving. sparkling. smelling good. giving.

she lived with passion.
she lived with compassion.

she lived, sister, she lived.

& she made our world more beautiful.

image sources: cinematic passions, harpers bazaar,,,, manolo's shoe blog,,

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