Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

A few weeks ago I began to plan what I was going to write about for that week.

The latest version of Yogi Bear was out on the rack and I had planned to compare this to the TV series I grew up watching.

That is until Elizabeth Taylor died.

Taylor, 1967, picture from

While she may not have been the first real “movie star” she was “the one.” Her presence was enough to draw you to her. Debbie Allen, the choreographer, said she was sitting next to Taylor at a dinner and was so overcome she could not look Taylor in the eyes. She could not see what some have described as the bluest of blue eyes, nearly the color of violet.  

There is –or was- no one else like her.

Taylor and James Dean in "Giant," Picture from

Taylor was a good actress and that is proved by her resume. Butterfield 8, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Giant are just a few of her memorable acting roles. Cleopatra proved she could act in a spectacle.

Her parents returned to America in an effort to avoid the war in England. She began acting at a young age, starring in one of the earliest versions of the Lassie series, Lassie Come Home with Rodney McDowell and Nigel Bruce. It was not until a year later that she would find a way into the hearts of moviegoers with National Velvet, starring with Mickey Rooney.  From then on, she would never leave.

Taylor and Mickey Rooney in National Velvet, picture from


She played Amy March in the June Allyson version of Little Women. She also appeared in Life With Father and Father of the Bride.  Her beauty  glowed from these movies and then she would take acting risks in Giant, A Place in the Sun and Suddenly Last Summer.

Taylor and Richard Burton in "Cleopatra," picture from

She is as well-known for her love life as well as her acting. Seven husbands, eight marriages, notable pieces of jewelry. She was friends with one ex, remarried another before remembering why they split and forever mourned her third  husband.  

My memories of Taylor are from her blowsey years, when the weight refused to leave and she finally worked to do something about her drinking. I remember pictures of her at political fundraisers with then-husband Sen. John Warner in the mid to late 70s. Then there would be the photos in the early 1990s with her new husband, Larry Fortensky.

My mother would talk about Taylor’s years with Burton. Perhaps the only couple who could be compared to them today is Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. They both have that star power, that magnetism. With Burton and Taylor, there was the realization that these two talented actors really loved each other but living together was another thing all together.

Taylor in 1998, Picture by Steve Granitz, image from

After 2001, Liz Taylor retired from acting, choosing to direct more of her energy to AIDS research fundraising and keeping contact with her friends and family. It is said to have her friendship was to be treated like a gem.  

That, my friend, is the best epitaph of all.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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