Wednesday, March 23, 2011
I woke up late this morning and got the shocking but not surprising news that Elizabeth Taylor was dead. I immediately went around to all my blog buddies to see what was posted; read the reactions. Many beautiful, sad, funny things were said, and the general consensus seems to be that she will be greatly missed. I was not inclined to do my own post at first, but it turns out there is something that I would like to say.
I will not miss Elizabeth Taylor. Put down that dvd of "X, Y and Zee" that you've got aimed at my head for a second and let me explain. When someone that I've known, publicly or personally, has died I get the feeling that I will miss them generally when their potential was clipped. When there was more that they could have expressed. But Miss Taylor lived a blockbuster, Cinemascopic, Stereophonic, balls-out, no-stone-unturned, great big fat (sometimes literally) life.
Unlike most celebrities of her era, she never went through an "item in the columns" period. From her pre-pubescence she was headlines all the way. She has run the gamut of appearing in lousy pictures to great ones. She has given everything from walk through performances to shuddering, shattering clinics in the art of motion picture acting. She somehow managed, at various times, to become the toast of Hollywood, New York, Washington DC, London and Paris. She's been the Queen of the Nile for chrissakes!
Many years ago she became legendary for her selfishness and for her compulsive acquisition of enough fine jewelery to open a very well appointed shop. With a stockroom in back. In more recent years she became just as legendary for her giving, both of time and money.
Also headlined, of course, were the zany hijinks and madcap merriment of her romantic life. She was a gal who believed in the 'now' of love. She understood that there is nothing remotely logical about love and to try to bring logic and appropriateness to it was a futile exercise, and she lived accordingly.
It's also important for me to remember: She Wasn't Like The Rest Of Us. I'll never forget a piece of a Vanity Fair article on her many years ago. It was sometime after the forming of AMFAR. She was probably in her early sixties at this point. She was to attend a meeting with the Board of Directors of her Foundation that was being held at the downtown Bank of America building. Afterwords, some of them were going someplace locally for lunch. Her driver deposited her at the elevators in the parking garage and up she went to the penthouse boardroom. After the meeting, it was decided that since the restaurant was a few doors away, they would walk to it. This meant leaving the building by going through the bank lobby. All these 'suits' and Elizabeth were walking through the bank when suddenly the guys became aware that she was not in their group any more. They looked back and there she was, standing alone in the middle of the enormous bank, a look of wonder on her face. They rushed back to her and asked if everything was alright. More to herself then to them she muttered, "So this is what a bank looks like"!
In more recent years, she quieted down. No more movie product - headlines few and far between. She became a maternal homebody in the very same house that she had lived in for many of the spectacle years. The house that has seen it all. I find myself thankful that she got to add quietness and mundane to her repertoire of experiences.
In the end, if there's one line of dialog from her career to sums her up it would be from 'V-Woolf': "I am the Earth Mother". The earth is a vast and beautiful and horrifying and kind thing. I will remember Elizabeth Taylor. I will celebrate her. But I will not miss her. She did everything she came here to do. She was complete.