Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Place in the Sun (Or, Queen Elizabeth)

And to think I was just about to post an R.I.P. entry for Loleatta Holloway...

Growing up in the 1970s, I thought of Elizabeth Taylor as something of a joke. She was often parodied and was often a parody of herself - the out-of-control, drunk and bloated faded superstar who was famous more for her husbands, jewelry, and various appetites than she was for her talent.

Despite it all, I was mesmerized as a kid. A woman in a turban leaves me weak in the knees.

Sometime after college, I discovered a different Elizabeth Taylor. I found the Elizabeth Taylor that existed before the sludge of gossip and unintentional camp hardened around her. I found Elizabeth Taylor the actress.

Her sheer power is obvious in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, but her blatant yet sophisticated sexuality in Butterfield 8, A Place in the Sun, Suddenly Last Summer, and Giant floored (and continue to floor) me. She was the most famous woman in the world in the 1950s/early 60s for good reason - beyond her stunning physicality, a great deal sparked behind those violet eyes. She was beckoning, but still a fantasy. It's no wonder so many men gave up everything to be with her.

I'll be mourning her death by watching Butterfield 8 tonight in a turban and dark sunglasses.

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