Sunday, 30 October 2016

Link to BBC tribute to Elizabeth Taylor

Does the name Elizabeth Taylor immediately remind you of Cleopatra, her famous seven husbands and the enormous rocks she wore on her finger and around her neck? Yes, but what few fans know is her unstinting charitable and pioneering work for AIDS awareness.
In 1985 her co-actor and close friend Rock Hudson was diagnosed with AIDS and many of her friends were HIV positive. Patients were persecuted, ill-treated and left to die. Medicine, treatment and awareness about the disease were nonexistent. Her pioneering efforts to raise funds have largely contributed to also raise levels of awareness and acceptance for patients. At a time when everyone looked the other way or pretended that this horrible illness did not exist, Taylor came out into the open, gave interviews and poured millions of dollars into the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). In 1991 she established her Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. She used her goodwill and fame for several philanthropic contributions. In recognition of her activism she was honoured by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1992. She was made Dame of the British Empire and named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Government.

Regardless of the fact that she herself suffered a series of illnesses, surgeries and accidents throughout her life Taylor has spent the last two decades to alleviate the pain of others. Taylor was born with spine curvature disorder, scoliosis and osteoporosis so debilitating back pain has been a companion all her life
Elizabeth Taylor known for her remarkable beauty and bewitching violet eyes was born in London on February 27, 1932 to American parents. They moved to USA just before World War II exploded in Europe. Her film debut was at ten in ‘There is One Born Every Minute’. MGM happily signed her to its studio along with other child actors like Judy Garland. She was admired for her beauty in films like Lassie Come Home and Jane Eyre. It was in 1944 that she caught world’s eye in National Velvet, where she played a girl passionately in love with horses.

In 1951 she appeared as a ravishing socialite in Gerorge Steven’s A Place in the Sun opposite Montgomery Clift followed by the epic Giant catapulting her into the big league even before she turned twenty. What remains a milestone in film history was Cleopatra (1963) where the talented, glamorous actress was paid  one million dollars, the highest ever for those times.

Taylor was nominated for Academy awards for three consecutive years for Raintree County, Suddenly Last Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
In 1960 Elizabeth Taylor won her first Oscar for Butterfield 8, and the second six years later as the foul-mouthed ‘Martha’ in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Richard Burton played ‘George’ opposite her in this Mike Nichols film. This role also got her awards from the British Film Academy, New York Film Critics Circle and National Board of Review.
Taylor never failed to thrill viewers in her roles in about 60 films and was sought after by the most respected Directors like Franco Zefferelli, John Huston, George Cukor, Vincente Minnelli and Joseph Mankiewicz.

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra met Richard Burton as Antony and the pair became Hollywood’s most sought after co-stars and most famous couple. Although they divorced and married twice, it is believed that Taylor never fell out of love with Burton. They made several remarkable films together­-V.I.P.s, Doctor Faustus, The comedians, The Taming of the Shrew, The Sandpiper, Boom! and Hammersmith is Out . Her other unforgettable movies were opposite powerful actors like Marlon Brando (Reflections in a Golden Eye) , Michael Caine ( X Y and Zee), Henry Fonda (Ash Wednesday) Andy Warhol (The Driver’s Seat) and Warren Beatty ( The Only Game in Town).
In 1981 Broadway beckoned and she made her debut in Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes. Her role as Regina Giddens received many awards including a Tony Award nomination. The only other attempt to perform on the stage was opposite Burton in Noel Coward’s Private Lives.
Her private life was full of upheavals as she married and divorced in quick succession Nicky Hilton, Michael Wilding, and Mike Todd. Todd died in a plane crash in New Mexico. The next year Taylor flirted with Eddie Fisher who was married to Debbie Reynolds. 
Taylor is a follower of Kabbalah. She was devastated by the death of long-time friend Michael Jackson recently. She had supported him openly when he was accused of child –molestation and vouched for his innocence. She is godmother to his daughter and son.
Besides divorces she had other kinds of problems too. She had a brain tumour which was removed in 1977, underwent radiation therapy for skin cancer, collapsed with congestive heart failure in 2008 and has had three hip replacements Early in 1983 Taylor admitted herself to Betty Ford Clinic to fight her dependency on painkillers and alcohol. There was worldwide publicity which shocked fans about how this glamorous actress had to wash and clean her room and clothes as part of the routine in the centre.
A collector of art, she had in her possession a Vincent Van Gogh painting. Four persons filed a case against her in 2007 saying it belonged to their Jewish ancestors. She won the battle as the US Supreme Court ruled in her favour.
Confined to the wheelchair by the debilitating condition called scoliosis, this indomitable keeps pace with the world with her Twitter and posts messages to her fans. Her love for diamonds and jewelry has made her an authority on the subject and has a book on the subject to her credit. A line of designer jewelry called ‘House of Taylor’ is inspired by her acquisitions over the years.
Elizabeth Taylor lives in Bel Air, California although she has homes in London and Hawaii.
Like an indestructible piece of art she bravely faces every new challenge. Thousands of fans pray for her even as a heart valve took her to the operating table yet again this month.
I dislike writing obituaries. I would rather celebrate icons and legendary figures happily when they are alive and pay homage to their spirit and achievements. All the information here is from the Internet but I do remember reading an autobiography published in the sixties.
[This was first published in just before demise.]

Elizabeth Taylor one of the most glamorous stars of Hollywood passed away on March 23, 2011. A two-time Oscar winner, her life was full of love, pain and charity. She even won an Oscar for her charities.

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