Sunday, February 27, 2011

Happy Birthday: Elizabeth Taylor!

Elizabeth Taylor was born in London, England, on February 27, 1932. Her father was a art dealer who had his own gallery in a fashionable part of London. Her mother was an actress under the stage name, Sara Sothern. In 1939 the family moved to Los Angeles, CA, where Elizabeth was encouraged by her mother to become an actress. It did not take long for Elizabeth to be signed on by Universal in 1941.

The following year, Elizabeth Taylor signed a contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and landed a part in the film, Lassie Come Home. In 1943 Taylor was cast opposite Mickey Rooney in the film, National Velvet, the story of a young girl who wins a horse in the lottery and rides it in England's Grand National Steeplechase.

Elizabeth Taylor loved the costumes, the make-up, and the attention while making films such as: Little Women, Father of the Bride, Cynthia and A Place in the Sun (1951), based on the novel An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser. It tells the story of a young man who is involved with two women. One who works in his wealthy uncle's factory and the other a beautiful socialite, with tragic results. Cliff and Taylor are wonderful together, in romance that will not be soon forgotten. If you are looking for a film with a good example of method acting this film is for you.

In 1956 she played opposite James Dean in the film, in a couple more of my of my favorite Elizabeth films, Giant, followed by Raintree County (1957), for which she received her first Academy Award nomination. She also performed in the film, Suddenly Last Summer (1959)for which she received her third Academy Award nomination. A melodrama/mystery. Based on the play of the same title by Tennessee Williams. The film is about a psychiatric doctor treating a female patient who, with the help of her wealthy aunt, is now a lobotomy candidate after witnessing the death of her male cousin while traveling in Spain. Hepburn and Taylor, are both at the top of their game in roles that seemed to be made especially for them. It's rare treat to see Hepburn play the villain.

While struggling with personal problems, she played the emotional part of Maggie in a wonderful film, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof(1958). Her portrayal of Maggie won her a second Academy Award nomination. The film is based on the play by Tennessee Williams. One of Williams's best-known works and his personal favorite the play won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1955. The story takes place on the plantation home of wealthy cotton tycoon that goes by the name Big Daddy Pollitt and his relationships with his son Brick, Brick's wife Maggie the Cat, as well as Brick and his father and other family members. Even though this is a Elizabeth Taylor tribute, I would like to mention Jack Carter, who gives what I think one of his best performances. He seems to have a good heart even after years of jumping through Big Daddy's hoops and his scheming, wife plans.

In 1960 Taylor performed in one of her best screen performances as a call-girl in the film, Butterfield 8, for which she won an Oscar as Best Actress. A few months later, in 1961, she signed with 20th Century-Fox to perform in the film, Cleopatra, with Richard Burton. Which I saw for the first time not to long ago. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. The screenplay was adapted by Sidney Buchman, Ben Hecht, Ranald MacDougall and Joseph L. Mankiewicz, from a book by Carlo Maria Franzero. The music score was by Alex North. Cleopatra, is about the struggles of Cleopatra VII, the young Queen of Egypt, to fight off Rome.

Two films, The VIPs (1963) and The Sandpiper (1965), preceded Elizabeth Taylor's screen triumph, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which she won another Oscar. Set on the campus of a small New England college, the film focuses on the challenging relationship of history professor George and his hard-drinking wife Martha, the daughter of the college president.

My favorite Elizabeth Taylor films:

1948 A Date with Judy
1949 Little Women
1950 Father of the Bride
1951 Father's Little Dividend
1951 A Place in the Sun
1954 Elephant Walk
1954 The Last Time I Saw Paris
1956 Giant
1957 Raintree
1958 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
1959 Suddenly, Last Summer
1960 Butterfield 8
1994 The Flintstones


  1. Happy Birthday Elizabeth.
    It's so sad she'll be spending it in hospital, Dawn I'm sure you and all the readers of this blog will join me in hoping that she gets well soon.

  2. I second that Paul. And great birthday tribute to Liz that you have done Dawn.

  3. The last I heard, she was feeling better. :)


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