Elizabeth Taylor was not a great actress. She didn't have to be because she was a great movie star. There was no one like her before or since. She had beauty, charm, presence and a certain composure that cannot be measured. Oh, and those eyes! Yikes, she could take over a movie with just those eyes.
Many of the obituaries I read used pictures of her later in life. That was not my Elizabeth Taylor; that was someone else who somehow became Liz. She should always be remembered as Elizabeth because it is a name as graceful as the woman herself.
When the stars of our youth pass away it brings back memories, always fond ones in my case.
The first big people movie I saw was Giant. My dad's cousins (all girls) took me to see it at a classic movie house in downtown Pittsburgh. You actually got dressed up to go to the downtown movie houses back then. I think my cousins went because they had a crush on Rock Hudson, which, as we found out later, was not going to do them any good.
For me that day gave me a crush on Elizabeth Taylor and epic movies. I know it was Giant that gave me a life-long love of good films. I was so smitten that my parents allowed me to stay up the next year for the entire Academy Awards. I have never missed one since. To this day I believe that Giant is one of two of the greatest epics ever made. The other is Lawrence of Arabia.
Giant is gorgeous and sweeping, the same words you could use to describe Elizabeth. It was also ahead of its time with a message of racial intolerance. Both Rock Hudson and James Dean are spectacular but you can check out any scene they share with Elizabeth Taylor and your eyes will shift to hers.
I realize her life became the subject of tabloids (again ahead of her time) but none of that matters to me today.
Tonight I am going to dress up, put on my Giant DVD, stare into those eyes and think about an afternoon with my cousins at a fancy movie theater. I am already smiling at the prospect.