Art Attack is crying tears of White Diamonds perfume this morning at the news that Dame Elizabeth Taylor, star of some 70 films and television shows and a wife in eight marriages (two to the same man) has died.
She was 79 and was probably the last surviving starlet of the Golden Age of Hollywood.
In describing her contribution to Hollywood on Twitter this morning, Mo Rocca took the words right out of our mouth:
Taylor had a not-so-tenuous connection to Texas. She famously lived in Marfa for several months with costars James Dean and Rock Hudson during the filming of the ranch drama Giant.
She was also married, at age 19, to Conrad "Nicky" Hilton of the famous hotel family, and the wedding album from that marriage currently resides in the archives library of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.
Art Attack's own obsession with the violet-eyed beauty began after we watched The Film That Changed Hollywood, a two-hour long documentary about the troubled filming of Cleopatra, a $44 million-dollar epic that was a critical success but a financial failure. It completely changed the big-movie studio system.
Taylor was always plagued with health problems. During the making of Cleopatra she became gravely ill and had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy, the scar from which was clearly visible in many of her later films. She was in her early 30s at the time and the illness forced the film even further off-schedule. Despite its setbacks, the movie remains one of the most visually spectacular films ever made in Hollywood (with almost no special effects, to boot.)
She also underwent surgery to treat a brain tumor, and had broken her back five times, which left her in a wheelchair for the final years of her life.
She first came to fame at the age of 12 in the family-friendly film National Velvet, where she played a girl who disguised herself as a male jockey in order to help her horse win a race. Six years later she would star opposite Montgomery Clift in the high drama A Place In The Sun, based on the death-penalty novel An American Tragedy. (That film also starred Shelley Winters, another Art Attack favorite.