Liz Taylor: Lackluster acting, but very beautiful

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Jacob Ellenhorn, Arts Editor

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Elizabeth Taylor was not a stellar actress.  Now that my opinion of her acting skills has been offered, I feel sufficiently unburdened to explore the reasons she was legendary.  I am not the only one who feels that Ms. Taylor was an underwhelming actress.  In 1941 the head of Universal Studios decided not to renew her contract with the studio because “. . . she can’t sing, she can’t act, she can’t dance, she can’t perform.”  This is where a quagmire arises. If Liz, as she was fondly known in Tinseltown, was not a superb actress, then why was she famous?

If this sounds like a familiar question, that’s because it is.   We ask the same question about Kim Kardashian,Paris Hilton, or Heidi Montag.  These three pseudo-celebrities are famous for having midot * that are less than exemplary (read between the lines, people).  Elizabeth Taylor did what these three girls are doing 50 years ago.

Ms. Taylor was a trendsetter and her trends are still timely.  Long before Jennifer Aniston was left crying after Brad Pitt left her for Angelina Jolie, there was Elizabeth Taylor.  Married to Eddie Fisher, Elizabeth Taylor fell in love with her leading man, Richard Burton, on the set of their film “Cleopatra”. While the Taylor/Burton affair was scandalous for 1963, it was also a brilliant publicity play.

Sheer sultry sexuality was Elizabeth Taylor’s best asset and she used it often and well.

Elizabeth Taylor once quipped that MGM studios taught her to be a movie star and that’s why she never knew how to be anything else. Each of her filmS was either in the middle of a marriage or divorce.  Her messy private life oiled the machines that garnished publicity for her films.

Whether Kim Kardashian knows it or not, Elizabeth Taylor opened the door for untalented  smokin’ hot babes to become celebrities.  The paparazzi hounded Elizabeth Taylor endlessly.  Her not so private life was more entertaining than her films.  Though she won an Oscar for her performance in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”, even there I don’t think that her acting was anything more than loud and dramatic.  I suspect that her Oscar win was owed to her tumultuous relationship with Richard Burton.

No one understood the old adage “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” better than Liz. Liz Taylor singlehandedly invented self-promotion and the Kim Kardashians of the world are following in footsteps that she paved.  On the other hand, I wish each of the wannabe vixens the best of luck because Elizabeth Taylor is a hard act to follow.

Kim K. needs to understand that at 30 years old, she still needs to accomplish a whole lot of living- Liz style.   Later in her life, Ms. Taylor became one of the first passionate advocates for people living with HIV/AIDS.  While her acting skills are debatable, herdedication to being charitable is not.  Arguably she was a trend-setter there as well, and we can hope she has as many imitators in that realm as in celebrity.

Elizabeth Taylor lived her life according to her own script, and for better and for worse, Hollywood recycles scripts.  Farewell Elizabeth.

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