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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, Requiescat In Pace.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau comes word that one of the world's most beautiful and most troubled women has left us.

Elizabeth Taylor, legendary actress, dies at 79 of congestive heart failure


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Elizabeth Taylor, the glamorous queen of American movie stardom, whose achievements as an actress were often overshadowed by her rapturous looks and real-life dramas, died early Wednesday of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said publicist Sally Morrison. She was 79.



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During a career that spanned six decades, the legendary beauty with lavender eyes won two Oscars and made more than 50 films, performing alongside such fabled leading men as Spencer Tracy, Montgomery Clift, Marlon Brando and Richard Burton, whom she married twice. She took her cues from a Who's Who of directors, including George Cukor, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, George Stevens, Vincente Minnelli and Mike Nichols.

We now move to further action...(I'll skip the as much of the screwed up stuff as I can, except for the following from her fifth "husband", Richard Burton.)

"She was, I decided, the most astonishingly self-contained, pulchritudinous, remote, removed, inaccessible woman I had ever seen," Burton wrote in a diary passage quoted in Melvyn Bragg's 1988 biography of the Welsh actor. She was, Burton said, "beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography." [Emphasis mine. - F.G.]

There is really something sad, beautiful, ironic, and stupid in that last bit, kiddies.


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Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in London of American parents on Feb. 27, 1932. Her mother, a former stage actress named Sara Sothern, and her father, art dealer Francis Taylor, gave her and brother Howard seaside holidays, servants and plenty of toys. Adults doted on little Elizabeth, who had luminous eyes, alabaster skin framed by raven-black tresses and a tiny birthmark on her right cheek that her mother highlighted with a cosmetic pencil.

When she was 7, her family moved to Beverly Hills, where Francis managed an art gallery in the Beverly Hills Hotel. With her fetching little-woman looks and a mother who aggressively pushed her into auditions, Elizabeth was noticed by talent scouts and soon had a contract at Universal Pictures. In 1942 at age 10 she made her film debut in a little-noticed comedy, "There's One Born Every Minute." Soon she was earning more than her father, whose resentment of this fact deepened his reliance on alcohol and fueled occasional beatings of his daughter.



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There! That's the look!

If only she had used her powers for good...

"I stopped being a child the minute I started working in pictures," she told writer Paul Theroux in 1999.

She changed studios in 1943 when Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was looking for a dog-loving English girl to play a small role in "Lassie Come Home." Elizabeth landed the part and became an MGM contract player.

Critics did not really take notice of her until MGM cast her in "National Velvet" as Velvet Brown, a girl who dreams of riding in England's Grand National steeplechase. "I wouldn't say she is particularly gifted as an actress," James Agee wrote in The Nation in 1944. "She strikes me, however, if I may resort to conservative statement, as being rapturously beautiful. I hardly know or care whether she can act or not."




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After the success of "National Velvet," it was difficult for Taylor to call her life her own. Her contract, she said later, "made me an MGM chattel" for the next 18 years. The studio chose her roles, controlled her public appearances, picked her dates and stage-managed her first wedding. After a string of ingenue roles, she won her first romantic lead opposite Robert Taylor in the forgettable melodrama "Conspirator" (1950). She experienced enough success to be noticed by the Harvard Lampoon, which teased her for "so gallantly persisting in her career despite a total inability to act."

In 1951 she answered those skeptics with her work in "A Place in the Sun," directed by Stevens. Playing a restless, sexually eager society girl drawn to a young man from a lower-class background, Taylor won her first critical praise as an adult actress.



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Shelley Winters, who played Taylor's lower-class rival in the movie, said in 1985 that "A Place in the Sun" was "still the best thing she ever did. Elizabeth had a depth and a simpleness which were really remarkable."

Stevens later hired her for another demanding role in "Giant" (1956), an epic about two generations of Texans. She played the wife of cattleman Rock Hudson, and James Dean, who died in a car crash before the movie was released, played a wild young ranch hand. Critics hailed her artistry, her "astonishing revelation of unsuspected gifts," the Times of London put it.

Her next three films would bring her Oscar nominations.



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The first was for "Raintree County," a 1957 release directed by Edward Dmytryk, in which Taylor played a passionate Southern belle capable of madness.

The next nomination was for her portrayal of Maggie in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958). Taylor played the beautiful, sexually seething wife of Paul Newman, the alcoholic, latently homosexual son of a Mississippi plantation owner. Although the actress was widowed in the midst of filming when Todd's plane crashed, she managed to turn in a performance widely considered one of the best of her adult career.

"She was an intuitive actress," Newman said years later of the woman who never took an acting lesson. "I was always staggered by her ferocity, and how quickly she could tap into her emotions. It was a privilege to watch her."



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Her third nomination recognized her work in "Suddenly Last Summer," another Williams story, which explored insanity, homosexuality and cannibalism. A commercial success like "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," it boosted Taylor into the box-office top 10 for the first time. She remained in the top 10 almost every year for the next decade.

In 1961 she won her first Oscar for her portrayal of a call girl in a tortured affair with a married man in "Butterfield 8." Although she hated the part and the script, she agreed to the role because it ended her contractual obligations to MGM.

Her next project was "Cleopatra" for Twentieth Century Fox. Taylor was loath to take the title role and set her asking price at $1 million. According to Fisher, she eventually earned $7 million after her percentages and other fees were paid.

With a record-breaking final price tag of $62 million, the film ushered in a new era of excess in Hollywood. It nearly bankrupted Fox, which was forced to sell its back lot bordering Beverly Hills to a developer, who turned those 200 acres into Century City.

The production also launched the most turbulent period of Taylor's life. She contracted pneumonia during filming in Rome and underwent an emergency tracheotomy. She was reported to be near death for days.

After she recovered and returned to the "Cleopatra" set, headlines around the world began to scream details of her affair with Burton. When the movie was finally released in 1963, the reviews were brutal, but audiences flocked to see its shameless-in-love stars.

Taylor co-starred with Burton in several more movies, including "The V.I.P.s" (1963); "The Sandpiper" (1965); "Doctor Faustus," "The Comedians" and "The Taming of the Shrew" (all 1967); "Boom!" (1968); "Under Milk Wood" and "Hammersmith Is Out" (both 1972); and an aptly titled television movie, "Divorce His, Divorce Hers" (1973). Critics found most of their collaborations unremarkable.

The exception came in 1966, when the ritzy couple were cast against type in Edward Albee's drama of marital angst, "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Taylor gained 25 pounds and donned a gray wig and extra padding to play Martha, the frumpy, foul-mouthed, highly educated wife of Burton's henpecked college professor. She was reportedly terrified by the challenge of playing a role so far removed from her glamorous persona.

Nichols put the Burtons and the other two cast members — George Segal and Sandy Dennis — through weeks of private rehearsals and closed the set during filming. Gradually, Taylor said, she grew so comfortable in her "Martha suit" that it freed her acting.

Critics lavished praise on her performance, calling it the best of her career. The film won five Oscars, including Taylor's second for best actress. She also won awards from the National Board of Review, the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., the New York Film Critics Circle and what is now the British Academy of Film and Television Arts...

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About Me

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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