This year I set myself a goal of reading one biography a month about a movie star or director, or other Hollywood type, who I’ve always wanted to know more about. At the top of the list fell Elizabeth Taylor.
Why Elizabeth Taylor?
I love old school Hollywood and vintage glamour, and Elizabeth Taylor is one of the people who personify this. Once known as the most beautiful person in the world, she’s known as much for her public as private life. A child star who went on to forge an adult career, winning Oscars and running through husbands, she was known partly as a force to be reckoned with and also for her humanitarian work.
I have been fascinated by her for a long time, and wondered about her multiple marriages, her passionate nature, and whether she was the diva some claimed, or the kind heart others knew her for. She also managed to maintain a career in film through many decades, unlike many other actors.
Elizabeth by J. Randy Taraborrelli
There are so many biographies, I had to pick just one, so if you guys have read one that you loved, please leave me a comment below. There are also several memoirs written by the star herself. But this one is really interesting. I love the way that Taraborrelli talks about Taylor’s whole life, balancing her love life with the world of Hollywood and the film business. It’s a really great read, full of emotion and anecdote.
Elizabeth Taylor seems like a troubled woman, whose mother was a huge driving force, pushing her into films from a young age, meaning that Elizabeth was cut off from the real world, in a lot of ways. Her early marriage, and subsequent searches for love seem to stem from a longing for love and acceptance. In a lot of ways, her life had a great deal of sadness. Her fist husband, Nicky Hilton, was violently abusive, and it seems like she was attracted to people who had issues with rage and alcoholism.
On the one hand, she was a woman who was beautiful and string willed, able to handle her own stardom and career, and yet also a woman who was often ill, always in the spotlight, and who had strong and last friendships with people. A loving person, who could be single minded when she wanted something, I ended up deciding that I really liked her. Even Debbie Reynolds, whose husband, Eddie Fisher, was “stolen” by Taylor, managed to forgive her.
Facts About Elizabeth I learned from this book:
- She was married 8 times to 7 men
- She was said to have been born with a mutation that gave her a double row of eyelashes.
- She was pushed into stardom by her dominating but loving mother.
- Though she had a sharp tongue, she was a very kind woman, whose close friends relied on her and who loved animals
- She was often seriously ill with illnesses like pneumonia, broke her back about three times over the course of her life, and nearly died a few times.
- Her love of jewels and her collection of them is legendary