Five Things We Can Learn from Elizabeth Taylor

Today's guest post is by Julie Farin, (@JulieFarin)

4113269400_5b2c627867With the death of legendary actress and activist Elizabeth Taylor, so goes the end of an era – the  Golden Age of Hollywood – when a handful of studio moguls, like Louis B. Mayer, Darryl Zanuck, and Jack Warner controlled careers, when glamorous leading ladies, like the breathtakingly beautiful Liz, guaranteed big box office returns, and when celebrity media coverage dominated by Hedda, Louella, and Winchell, was carefully managed.

Dame Elizabeth Taylor packed a lot of living into her 79 years; way more than us mere mortals. Some might consider her life a cautionary tale filled with failed marriages and endless illnesses, topped with addictions to alcohol, pain medication, and food. But I believe that we can all take away some valuable life lessons from the Oscar-winning Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky.

•    Never underestimate the power and attention that comes with dazzling beauty – and knowing how to use it wisely. 

•    True friendship isn’t measured by how many “friends,” “likes” or “followers” you have, but
by being there for Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson during their time of need.

•    Ask for what you believe you’re worth. Taylor had no particular interest in starring in Cleopatra, so she flippantly told 20th Century Fox that she’d do it only if they paid her $1 million.  Her negotiating chutzpah made her the highest-paid actor in Hollywood and the first ever to earn a seven-figure salary for one film.

•    Getting back together with an ex- is seldom a good idea. Elizabeth Taylor was publicly condemned by the Vatican when news broke of her scandalous affair with Richard Burton during the filming of Cleopatra in Rome. Liz & Dick married in 1964 and divorced ten years later, only to remarry in 1975. However, the problems in their relationship still hadn’t been resolved, so they wound up divorcing a second time after less than a year.

•    Speak out against injustice and stand up for you believe in– even when it’s unpopular.  Nowadays, just about every celebrity is connected to a charity cause. Back in the mid-1980s, few in Hollywood wanted to be associated with the new health crisis– HIV and AIDS– which was labeled the “gay plague” at the time. But LA Liz went all the way to Washington, DC to petition Congress to fund research for cures and co-founded AmfAR.

Elizabeth Taylor was a one of a kind gem, and the world was much richer for having her in it for 79 years.  As her good friend Larry King said upon hearing of her death, “There’ll never be another like her.”

19 thoughts on “Five Things We Can Learn from Elizabeth Taylor

  1. Yes, who could forget Monty & Liz in “Raintree County” — esp since during that time he experienced that terrible car accident leaving Liz’s house, when she literally saved his life (see Monty link in the blog). Poor Monty’s handsome face was never the same…nor was his career…
    Liz certainly did love her furry friends. In fact, one could say that her career was launched with the help of a dog (“Lassie, Come Home”) and a horse (“National Velvet”).

  2. She lived life to the utmost, Bravo Liz. A great star,gorgeous lady and she did it HER way. And since we are enjoying citing GWTW connections, let’s not forget its imitative cousin i.e. “Raintree County” w/ none other than Liz and Monty.
    She was a natural beauty in “National Velvet” and “Lassie”, great films about animals and well suited to the little ones in our lives. A fitting intro to a life well lived.
    RIP Liz.

  3. Hey, RepMan…it’s your fault for mentioning From Here to Eternity…which led to me mentioning The Heiress and Olivia deHavilland…which led to the GWTW tangent… Oh, well, fiddle dee dee… that’s showbiz! Long Live Elizabeth Taylor!

  4. Hey, Bubbles… I know Vivien Leigh/GWTW as well as Elizabeth Taylor…and The Beatles…so no Googling was necessary by this fan! 🙂

  5. If we were playing Jeopardy you’d have lost 🙂 The original title was just “Pansy.” But kudos for knowing the name at all (unless you googled it, and in that case you’ll never get into the DAR!)

  6. The correct answer to the trivia question is PANSY O’HARA. Hard to believe that was once a name considered by Margaret Mitchell for the quintessential Southern belle…

  7. Here’s some GWTW trivia: What was the initial title of the book? It is also the first name Margaret Mitchell had for Scarlett.

  8. wow, I never thought I’d see the day when I learned a new fact about GWTW..fiddle dee dee.
    any other random facts?

  9. RepMan: Here’s another GWTW factoid that Catharine Cody may not know — Elizabeth Taylor was actually considered for the role of Scarlett and Rhett’s daughter, Bonnie Blue. But Taylor’s dad thought Liz was too young at the time to be in movies (she was 7).
    Can you imagine having GWTW as your acting debut? And yes, Vivien Leigh was another great beauty and fantastic in that role.

  10. Yes, and since we’re engaging in a six degrees of separation kind of thing, Julie, I must note that Olivia de Havilland co-starred in Catharine ‘Goose’ Cody’s all-time favorite flick, ‘Gone with the wind.’ That said, her character, Melanie, was disgustingly nice. Ugh! Give me Scarlett O’Hara any day of the week.

  11. Good point, Ted! Liz’s friendship with the Reagans is yet another example of how she used her fame and connections to help others.

  12. Yes, RepMan, Monty was superb in “From Here to Eternity”… My personal favorite movie of his, though, is “The Heiress.” Even though he plays a fortune-hunting scoundrel, you still fall in love with him (as Olivia de Havilland’s character does)!

  13. Speaking of Monty, I’d have to list ‘From here to eternity’ as one of my five all-time favorite movies. Monty, as Private Robert E. Lee Pruitt, was superb. So, too, was Francis Albert Sinatra as Maggio and Ernest Borgnine as Fatso Judson. Great flick.

  14. Damn good, Julie. Really damn good. You know, it was her friendship with Nancy and Ronnie Reagan that sprung federal coin for AIDS research in the 1980s. She was a great friend to people when they needed it and when it was inconvenient for her. She will be missed like nobody’s business. -Teddy

  15. Thanks, Marisa! Yes, Liz was amazing in Virginia Woolf, but my favorites are (of course) “Cleopatra” and “A Place in the Sun” — Monty and Liz together — need I say more?

  16. Julie,
    You are spot on-this is truly the end of the Golden Age of Hollywood! The actors today can’t hold a candle to Liz. She was amazing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and “five things.”
    I will have to watch “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” this weekend!