There’s very little that I can say about one of my favorite screen stars that other people haven’t already said. On the late Elizabeth Taylor’s birthday, today, I decided to look back on a few of her best sayings as I recount her many films.
“People who know me well, call me Elizabeth. I dislike Liz.” Violet eyes was born on this date in 1932 in London, UK. Her family moved to California when the winds of war became stronger in 1939. Taylor’s lengthy film career began soon after the move. After a family friend suggested a screen test, Universal Pictures was wowed enough to sign her for one film, “There’s One Born Every Minute”. She was a tender ten-year-old at the time. “I have a woman’s body and a child’s emotions.”
“Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.” Universal executives probably kicked themselves later for not renewing her contract. MGM quickly penned an agreement with Taylor’s family for her talent. The following year, she appeared in “Lassie Come Home” in 1943. The film is still a favored classic among movie purists. Taylor had minor roles in her next two films. However, acclaim and stardom arrived in 1944 with “National Velvet”. She co-starred with fellow child star Mickey Rooney. The movie went over big with a $4,000,000 box office gross. Lassie reappeared in 1946, then in 1947 she starred in the critically praised “Life With Father. Her co-players were William Powell, Irene Dunne, and Zasu Pitts.
“Everything makes me nervous – except making films.” Taylor enjoyed a string of successes in the 1940s and early 50s. Her movies included “The Last Time I Saw Paris” and “Elephant Walk”. One of the most noteworthy releases was the 1956 film “Giant”. She appeared with James Dean before he was killed in the car wreck. In 1958, she performed a powerful Maggie Politt in “Cat On A Hot Tin Roof” in 1958.
She enjoyed yet another run of successful movies into the early 1960s. It was 1963 when she signed the contract for “Cleopatra”. “If someone’s dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I’m certainly not dumb enough to turn it down.” Taylor did earn her extravagant paycheck for a stunning performance in one of that era’s most expensive films. After a handful of mediocre films, Taylor was cast as Martha in the 1966 classic “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?” The film earned her an Oscar.
Her personal and public lives often merged. The movie magazines and gossip columnists had many a field day. “The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they’re going to have some pretty annoying virtues.”
“Marriage is a great institution.” Elizabeth Taylor was not only famous for her great film performances, but for her many attempts at matrimony, too. Her off screen life included a line up of wealthy and/or famous husbands. “My mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born, but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked.”
Her actual life was certainly more interesting and exciting than even the best Hollywood movies. “I haven’t read any of the autobiographies about me.” In the end, Elizabeth Taylor turned out to be not only a spectacular success in whatever she undertook to do, but was also a warm, caring human being. “When people say, ‘She’s got everything’, I’ve got one answer–I haven’t had tomorrow.”
The Blue Jay of Happiness enjoys a particular comment Taylor voiced about glamor. “I adore wearing gems, but not because they are mine. You can’t possess radiance, you can only admire it.”