Elizabeth Taylor (1932 – 2011)
While she did not appear in horror films, as a site devoted to movies, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the death of Elizabeth Taylor today at the age of 79. Known at the height of her career as a beauty with violet eyes, Taylor first became a star in NATIONAL VELVET (1944) at the age of 12. She gained attention as a serious adult actress in some of her best films like:
GIANT (1956), where she played opposite Rock Hudson, and James Dean (in his last film role) about a family in the oil business. In some ways this movie plays like a precursor to the show DALLAS.
CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF ( 1958) and SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (1959), two films based on plays by the legendary Tennessee Williams. The latter film even had a screenplay by Williams and Gore Vidal.
BUTTFIELD 8 (1960), based on a novel by John O’Hara, where she played a model/call-girl; a role for which she won her first Oscar.
CLEOPATRA (1963), her most notorious film, a lavish period piece that went way over budget, to become one of the most expensive films ever made up to that time. Co-starring her future husband Richard Burton. It was a box-office flop when it was first released.
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? (1966) Probably her greatest role, again playing opposite Burton, as viciously feuding spouses. She won her second and last Oscar for this movie.
ASH WEDNESDAY (1973) One of the first films to deal with plastic surgery. A wife goes to Switzerland to get surgery to look young again to save her marriage.
By the 1980s, she appeared mostly in television miniseries and soap operas, and by the end of her career in the 1990s, she mostly did voice work and the occasional perfume commercial. She had a long career and was considered by some to be one of the last true movie stars of an age gone by. However, from the 1960s-on, she became a tabloid staple, becoming more famous for her personal life than her acting. Her exploits included everything from affairs with married men; to her tempestuous relationship with Richard Burton; to several stints in rehab (long before it became something that almost all celebrities did) and multiple failed marriages; to an odd friendship with singer Michael Jackson.