An occasional series with Thomas Myler
Probably more than any other actress in the history of the cinema, Elizabeth Taylor’s private life was public property. During the 1960s and into the 1970s it was almost impossible to pick up a newspaper or a magazine without some item about her.
She was married eight times, twice to Richard Burton, endured serious illnesses, and led a jet set lifestyle, including amassing one of the most expensive private collections of jewellery in the world. Her life and times often got more coverage than major world events. Whatever Taylor did, she was big news.
Hailed many times as the world’s most beautiful woman, she was just that, with her unblemished skin and those unique violet eyes. Besides her expensive taste in jewellery, Taylor’s dress sense and choice of husbands reflected her colourful and so often flamboyant lifestyle.
Then again she was one of the highest paid actresses in the world, with some fine movies to her credit, notably her two Oscar-winning performances in Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She had been previously nominated three times – for Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly Last Summer.
Elizabeth was fortunate that she was able to graduate from being child actress to adult star, avoiding the pitfalls that befell so many others who failed to make the transition. She was often very critical of her performances, famously saying: ‘Many of my films were lost under a morass of mediocrity. Some of my best leading players have been dogs and horses.’