Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Loss of an Icon--Elizabeth Taylor

Born in February 1932, Elizabeth Taylor charmed us thru decades and beyond with her natural exuberance, style and grace. Having acted since she was 9 years old, Taylor captivated audiences in almost 75 movies and television appearances landing her two best actress academy awards as well as being placed 7th on the American Film Institute’s Female Legends List.

Although I have never seen her first film, I do remember the first movie I experienced Elizabeth Taylor and that is Jane Eyre released in 1944. She had a small part but played an extraordinary role as the curly hair, bright eyed companion of the young Jane Eyre. Even through the quality of a black and white film, Taylor illuminated with the pizazz of color. The best was yet to come as later that year she starred in a movie which catapulted her career at the tender age of 12. We all remember Elizabeth riding a horse with her long flowing hair blowing as she played Velvet Brown in National Velvet. Of course falling off the horse has been attributed to the many years Taylor endured back problems but we still applaud her stellar performance.

Elizabeth Taylor went on to make many films but that which most strike audiences was her role as Kay Banks in 1950’s version Father of the Bride which became her first real box office success. Much attributed to Metro’s now known as MGM publicity campaign coordinating the films released with Taylor’s first marriage with Hotel heir Conrad “Nicky” Hilton. The wedding dress she wore in Father of the Bride was the most copied dress of that decade. Taylor also attributed to the feminine attribute of fashion in her 1958 film “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” where she slinked around in a white slip, making undergarment sales in departments stores increase. It was films such as those and Butterfield 8 which led her to win her first academy award, that iconized Elizabeth Taylor and uplifted her to sex symbol status.

Taylor continued her stronghold on cinema and men as she played Cleopatra igniting an off screen romance with Richard Burton whom she married twice. Yes we all remember the jewelry gave her including the Taylor-Burton diamond a 69.42 carat pear shaped carved from a rough stone weighing 240 carats. I guess diamonds really are a girl’s best friend… And so we continue on as there are just to many movies that we love starring Elizabeth Taylor.

As her film career dwindled, she reinvented herself in the perfume industry releasing White Diamonds. Of course we all remember seeing Taylor in the commercial giving the card shark a diamond earring and saying “These have always brought me luck.” White Diamonds along with her other two fragrances, Passion and Black Pearls yields an estimated 200 million in annual sales combined.

Most noted throughout Elizabeth Taylor’s career is her humanitarian efforts in AIDS related charities earning her the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Academy Award in 1992. She helped create the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) after the death of her former costar and friend, Rock Hudson. She also created her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF). By 1999, Taylor had helped to raise over $50 million to fight the disease. A great achievement indeed in such a short span of time. Elizabeth Taylor also supported Michael Jackson during his molestation charges and was one of the few attendees at his private funeral.

So now we must bid adieu to a legendary, actress, jewelry designer, fashionista and humanitarian. Another Icon of our time, until we meet again, Rest in Peace.

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