Dame Elizabeth Taylor, the Oscar-winning Hollywood actress whose personal life had tumult and drama to equal her 62 films, died today of congestive heart failure, her publicist told the Associated Press...."Sadly," Carrie writes, "Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky was better known for her many marriages and medical miseries than for her acting or philanthropic gifts. Those under 40 who know Miss Taylor primarily as a peddler of perfume and tabloid gargoyle are too young to remember that she was a working actress and national icon from the time she was a preteen, one of the handful of child stars to make the graceful transition to adult roles. And even those old enough to know better are more likely to remember Miss Taylor for her bronchitis, bijoux, beauty and brio than for her 62 movies and telefilms, nine grandchildren, four children, two Oscars, and countless awards."
The voluptuous goddess, one of the first celebrities to live her private life before the public eye, was one of two Elizabeths who ruled the 20th century. One was queen of England; the other, queen of screen and scandal who, in her third act, remade herself into the ultimate Samaritan.
Miss Taylor, whose long history of health problems accelerated as she aged, enjoyed a six-decade career in Hollywood. Over the years, the number of headlines devoted to her maladies - not to mention her men and her movies - made Miss Taylor perhaps the most celebrated of 20th-century celebrities.
Blessed with sable hair, alabaster skin, a ruby pout, and sapphire eyes that flashed violet, she was a human inventory of precious materials. The fabled collector of animals and minerals liked her dogs small, her men larger than life, and her diamonds at least 30 carats.
More from the LA Times: "Some actresses, such as Katharine Hepburn and Ingrid Bergman, won more awards and critical plaudits, but none matched Taylor's hold on the collective imagination. In the public's mind, she was the dark goddess for whom playing Cleopatra, as she did with such notoriety, required no great leap from reality." The LAT obit also has this bit from Richard Burton's diary as quoted in his biography:
She was, I decided, the most astonishingly self-contained, pulchritudinous, remote, removed, inaccessible woman I had ever seen ... beautiful beyond the dreams of pornography.The Awl has a clip from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, a devastating film which blew me away when I first saw it. And now the Inq also has Carrie's appreciation of Taylor's work, separate from the obit itself: "Elizabeth Taylor was so traffic-stopping gorgeous that even if she couldn't act, she almost certainly would have been a movie star. But though her dramatic career paled next to the melodrama of her life, Miss Taylor could act. She was one of the rare examples of a beauty who ripened into an actress. (Michelle Pfeiffer is another.)"