Goodbye, Elizabeth. Farewell, Hollywood.

Look for it only in books for it is no more than a dream remembered—a civilization gone with the wind.”

Impossibly Beautiful.

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.

The Consummate Movie Star

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.

Posted by

Film writer and social media marketing professional. 2019 Social Ambassador for the 10th Annual TCM Classic Film Festival. Previously: social media associate at Warner Archive and script writer for Turner Classic Movies. Working on a Montgomery Clift biography due late 2020.

9 thoughts on “Goodbye, Elizabeth. Farewell, Hollywood.

  1. Lovely tribute. I feel the same about Elizabeth. I can’t claim to have been the biggest fan of hers, but I enjoy many of her films and one can’t deny that she was the definition of a star. RIP, Elizabeth.


  2. “Look for it only in books for it is no more than a dream remembered—a civilization gone with the wind.” – Margaret Mitchell

    Whilst I am totally on the same page with you regarding the sad loss of the uniquely beautiful and talented Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Mitchell had nothing to do with the quotation above. It does not come from the book, but from the opening titles of “Gone With The Wind,” and was written by David O. Selznick himself.

    1. You are a superstar! Thanks SO much for bringing that to my attention– and sparing me serious social embarrassment. (that’s what happens when you simply assume things!)

  3. Kitty,

    This is one time when pushing the outer limits of middle age has its advantages. Elizabeth Taylor was the living definition of “movie star” during my moviegoing lifetime — from age 5 onward. And I’m not asking anyone to take my word for it. But I believe if you spoke to anyone in the media who covered “Hollywood” during the 50s and 60s, well into the 70s, and asked them which movie star — which celebrity — attracted the most camera flash, they would mention one name: Liz Taylor.

    Aside from Jackie Onassis, no celebrity of the time got more ink or more photogs following them. Yes, Jackie attracted the first paparazzi, but that was one dogged solo photographer — Liz was the first to attract crowds of them with every public appearance — even after the studios publicity machines were dead and buried. She was the last movie star to attract that kind of attention EVEN WHEN SHE WASN’T INVOLVED IN SCANDAL or CONTROVERSY. I shout those words because otherwise I don’t think anyone under 40 will believe such media attention back then, or now, to be possible.

    No movie star or entertainment celebrity from Mary Pickford onward, received as much public attention — and I don’t mean American public, I mean global — as she did when she DID do something scandalous such as her affair with a still-married Richard Burton — the beginning of their long, tumultuous relationship — while they were making the costliest movie ever — that was already a huge story in itself. And their relationship was a story the media followed for the next 20-plus years, every breakup, reconciliation and new rift was documented and, for maybe the first time in the history of American journalism, their marriages and divorces made the front pages, with pictures and bold headlines, of every newspaper in America.

    With hindsight, it is obvious to me that she represented the pinnacle of what we have called “movie stardom,” a term that loses relevance with each passing decade and the fracturing of our media and our interests and the multiplying forms of entertainment. I haven’t even made mention of her acting ability, her great, her lousy or her best films, her child stardom (don’t forget that, either). I’ve only emphasized the celebrity element, I’ll let someone else do the filmic analysis!

    Future generations will pass judgment on our cultural values, but if they correctly understand our times, they will recognize the importance to us of cultural cornerstones such as “movie stardom,” and that Elizabeth Taylor was the last true example of that uniquely 20th Century phenomenon.

  4. Hi Kitty — I saw your comment on Garbo’s upcoming blogathon, and just had to visit you. I love your tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. I did one myself, and found the most gorgeous picture of her. It’s actually one of her ads for Violet Eyes perfume, and she is every inch the gorgeous star! Yes, she was controversial, especially about the marriage scandals, but as I said in my article, she was only ONE-HALF responsible — the men have to take the OTHER half! I remember the ballyhoo about it, and I always thought it was awful to describe her as if she were Eve with the apple, completely responsible for seducing the poor helpless men. Ridiculous.

    I saw that you are planning a blogathon about horror movies. Right up my alley. Could I participate? Just let me know.

    I like your blog, and plan to put you on my favorites list so I can remember to keep up with you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s