March 23rd, 2011. Elizabeth Taylor affectionally called “Liz” died. With her death a slice of glamour disappears, cauterized from the soul of Hollywood, never again to rise to such stratospheric heights. Elizabeth Taylor epitomized the “starlit”; her beauty unmatched, her talent monumental; countless husbands, love affairs, celestial jewelry; she was the luscious fodder the tabloids fed upon for almost seventy years. Why this ache, gloomy reverie, numbing nostalgia? Because we knew her!
In this age of inimitable and ubiquitous access to every film ever made, regardless of which generational slot you inhabit, Elizabeth Taylor movies and their accessibility cross all boundaries. She was 12 years old in 1944 when her luminous, youthful, divine loveliness pulsated from the screen in “National Velvet” ; “Little Women”, 1949; “Father of the Bride” 1950, “A Place in the Sun”, 1951; the accolades accelerate with “Raintree County”1957, “Suddenly Last Summer” 1957, “Butterfield 8” 1960, (Oscar). But “Cleopatra” 1963, erased all barriers between her on- and -off screen persona. Her love affair and marriages to Richard Burton plagued, transcended and caused havoc with her emotional sacredness or stability; regardless, garnishing a second Oscar for her performance (starring with Mr. Burton) in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1966).
Yes, we knew her. We were privy to her faults, addictions, illnesses, passions, charities, politics, friendships. She gratified our lust for the sensational, extreme acquisitiveness , limitless excess; her hunger for life’s treasures satiated, substituted our unrequited desires. She was a queen, an icon; her absence leaves a pristine void, likely not to be replaced.
Death, with its lethal tentacles, hovered at her door on many occasions in her patterned existence but in the words of Dylan Thomas she did not:
Go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at cause of day
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
With her passing and the permanent closing of those violet eyes; the light called “Liz” fades, but the wattage of her legacy will glimmer forever.