“Look for it only in books for it is no more than a dream remembered—a civilization gone with the wind.”
With today’s passing of Dame Elizabeth Taylor, I could not quite get those opening credits of David O Selznick’s Gone with the Wind out of my mind. Taylor is not the last star of Hollywood’s Golden Age to leave us— we still, thankfully, have with us the talents of Mickey Rooney, Debbie Reynolds, Jane Powell, Kirk Douglas, Lauren Bacall, Olivia deHavilland, Joan Fontaine, Shirley Temple and Louis Rainer. All of whom I love dearly. (And a few of whom I prefer as actors to Taylor.)
But as far as the 20th Century idea of “movie star” goes, no one has been, is and will be more consummate of a movie star than Elizabeth Taylor. The name is larger than life, and is topped only by the woman who possessed it: a woman who loved hard, lived large and suffered deeply—an epic story of love, loss and survival. Her passing, symbolically, signifies the end of an entire civilization. A world that no longer exists.
I’m open to argument, but I strongly feel that she is the last Hollywood Superstar.
Golden Hollywood, already a legendary Oz, really began fading from our tangible collective hold in the late 90s, with the deaths of Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn and Bob Hope. The past years have been especially sad for classic film lovers around the world, particularly with the passings of Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Tony Curtis and Jane Russell to highlight but the few. And although dear Elizabeth had been failing for quite some time, the news is still a sad shock to any and all who love her and love the world she reigned over. And somehow, for me anyway, with the candle blown on her legendary life… that golden Hollywoodland that I grew up with is, finally, truly, forever gone.
Created and cultivated by the studio system, bred by the studio system—its shining beacon of beauty and glamour—there will only ever be one Elizabeth Taylor. Initially just another ‘product’ to be exploited by studio suits, Taylor turned the tables and became an accomplished actress (“She knows her instrument,” co-star and friend Paul Newman once said, “and she knows how to play it.”)
The Kitty Packard Pictorial bids adieu to this extraordinary woman, her extraordinary beauty and her extraordinary gifts as an actress.
This moving tribute paid to her by Paul Newman on TCM a few years back sums up so much: her strength as a human being, her worth as a talent– her legacy as a star.
“It was a privilege to watch her,” Newman says in the tribute.
It is now more than a privilege. It is an honour.
Thank you for the memories, Elizabeth. We love you. And you are a part of us. Always.