I just finished reading, “Elizabeth” by J. Randy Taraborrelli. Elizabeth Taylor recently passed away and I realized that beyond the “White Diamonds” commercials I used to watch as a little girl, and my grandmother reading about her exploits in the papers (I was too young at the time to be allowed to read these ‘adult’ stories), I really didn’t know much about the legend.
Taraborrelli’s account of Elizabeth Taylors like is really lovely. I’ve heard that many biographies about Elizabeth Taylor can be quite scathing — she made some mistakes in her life and some people hated her for them.
This version of her life however, while not bias to the point of painting her as a saint, delivers a more level perspective of her life than I initially anticipated. Throughout the course of the story, I admired, despised, pitted, and again admired Elizabeth. While we can all look at her life and judge, I think I’ve taken five important lessons from her story:
1. A little drama keeps life interesting: Elizabeth had a flare for the dramatic. Every moment of her life, even the aspects of her life that weren’t in front of a camera played out in the most typically dramatic fashion. While filming Cleopatra, Elizabeth and Richard Burton began a love affair behind Eddie Fisher’s back, Eddie soon found out and confronted “Liz and Dick” at a party hosted at Elizabeth and Eddie’s villa. Burton shouted at Eddie that Elizabeth was now his woman and demanded Elizabeth come over and kiss him (“put your tongue down my throat” was the exact words) in front of not only her husband, but the whole room full of people. Surprising everyone, Elizabeth did just that, then she ran to the top of the stairs, raised her glass and drank a whole glass of champagne in one gulp, then disappeared into her bedroom not to return to the party she was hosting. Talk about dramatic! But at the same time, doesn’t it make for a good story? While this might be a bit too extreme for most of our tastes, taking just a taste of Elizabeth’s life’s drama into are own could definitely leave us with some nights to remember.
2. Diamonds really are fabulous: Elizabeth was given some of the most beautiful pieces of jewelery in the world by the men in her life. When she was married to Mike Todd, she would wear her tiara to swim, she received the Krupp diamond from Richard Burton (as well as the the Taylor-Burton diamond). I can go on and on about the woman’s jewel collection (which will soon be auctioned by Christie’s), and the truth is, even as I pride myself (try to convince myself) on not being a materialistic person, diamonds are truly a girl’s best friend (smiling with my eyes closed as I imagine swimming while wearing many many sparkling things – FAB!).
3. You can’t blame your parents for everything: Try as best she could, but there was no way anyone can truly believe that the tragic aspects of Elizabeth’s life were due to her experiences as a child. She often times had these recollections of her childhood that were painful, tainted, and she linked that tough childhood to the tragic aspects of her life as an adult, over-relating to other tragic stars like Michael Jackson. Why do I claim she over-related? Sure, her mother got her started in show business very early in life, and true her parents had a weird dynamic most of her life. But Elizabeth got herself into most of the trouble she ended-up in (most of which was in her love life). Her parents only tried to be patient as she worked her way through her 3rd and 4th etc. marriages. Better yet, if they were responsible for the bad stuff, they definitely get the credit for the good stuff. It’s just so easy to blame your parents when your life is miserable, isn’t it? Next time a relationship goes south, remind me not to blame my controlling mother or absentee dad — I still might, so definitely remember to remind me.
4. What goes around comes around: I know you’ve all heard this one before. But it’s probably the truest saying in the world over. Elizabeth shared her bed with a married man (Eddie Fisher), who subsequently left his wife for her, POW! Elizabeth later fell madly in love with Richard Burton, and despite her longing and desperate efforts to maintain the relationship, he ultimately left her for a BBD (bigger better deal — in this case younger better deal), BOOM!
5. Live life such that you get everything from it you want: People may have critical things to say about you, no matter what you do. So the best you can do is love the people around you and take life by the you-know-what. Elizabeth traveled the world, loved deeply, had children, had a infamous career and did all of this in the most glamorous way imaginable.
RIP Dame Elizabeth Taylor.