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Category: Elizabeth Taylor

Poll: Elizabeth Taylor should've won an Oscar for …?

Cleopatra Elizabeth Taylor newsElizabeth Taylor bagged two Oscars: one deserved ("Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" 1966) and one that should be returned to the academy with an apology note from her estate ("Butterfield 8," 1960).

She was nominated three other times: "Raintree County" (1957), "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958) and "Suddenly, Last Summer" (1959). In my unhumble opinion, she should've won for "Cat," and should never have accepted bids for the other two.

She deserved nominations, maybe even wins too, for "A Place in the Sun" (1951), "Giant" (1956), "Cleopatra" (1963) and possibly even "Taming of the Shrew" (1967). "Shrew," granted, is overblown Shakespearean camp, a guilty pleasure of mine that was pooh-poohed by movie critics 40 years ago. But they were wrong. It's terrific, especially considering what shrews Taylor and Richard Burton were in real life. Thus, they're in on the joke, and by adding the Bard to the mix -- that's magic.

Critics love to lambast "Cleopatra" as one of Hollywood's biggest film fiascos, but, sorry, they were wrong about that too. Nowadays it's proven to be an enduring masterpiece. "Cleopatra" and "Virginia Woolf" are probably the two films Taylor will be most remembered for in history. In the poll below, I voted for "Cleopatra." What gets your vote?


Elizabeth Taylor had a love-hate fling with Oscar

Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar for a real stinker

Flashback: Elizabeth Taylor wasn't afraid of 'Virginia Woolf'

-- Tom O'Neil

Photo: Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in "Cleopatra" (20th Century Fox)

Elizabeth Taylor won an Oscar for a real stinker

Elizabeth Taylor Butterfield 8 Oscars news

According to legend, Elizabeth Taylor exclaimed, "It stinks!" when she saw "BUtterfield 8" for the first time. She is said to have hurled her shoes at the screen and stormed out of the room, using profanity. That's how much she hated the film that would earn her the first of two Oscars.

Elizabeth Taylor believed it was a stinker right from the start. According to the book "Inside Oscar," she told Sol Siegel, MGM's head of production, when she read the script based on John O'Hara's novel about a high-class call girl: "This is the most pornographic script I have ever read. I've been here for 17 years and I was never asked to play such a horrible role as Gloria Wandrous. She's a sick nymphomaniac. I won't do it for anything."

But Taylor was forced to do the role to meet the terms of her contract. Later, she was glad she did -- when she finally won an Oscar after three previous defeats. (Read the story of how she prevailed: "Elizabeth Taylor had a love-hate fling with Oscar.") Backstage, after the awards ceremony, her husband Eddie Fisher said to her, "Here, let me carry the Oscar. It must be heavy for you."

"It isn't," she said. "I'll carry it until it's too much. I waited a long time."

-- Tom O'Neil


Flashback: Elizabeth Taylor wasn't afraid of 'Virginia Woolf'


Photo: "BUtterfield 8." Credit: MGM

Elizabeth Taylor had a love-hate fling with Oscar

Never mind Elizabeth Taylor's seven steamy marriages and many romances. She had a much more tempestuous love-hate relationship with Oscar.

The first three times Elizabeth Taylor was nominated, Oscar jilted her for other lead actresses. When she was up for "Raintree County" (1957), the academy's Golden Boy embraced Joanne Woodward ("Three Faces of Eve"). She deserved to win for "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958), but Oscar tossed her aside for Susan Hayward ("I Want to Live!").

Elizabeth Taylor news Butterfield 8Thank goodness she didn't win for "Suddenly, Last Summer" (1959) –- she didn't deserve to. All Taylor did was mug, whine and weep too extravagantly about her wayward cousin, Sebastian, that impossible Sebastian, while being upstaged by Katharine Hepburn, who was also nominated and seemed to suffer Taylor's histrionics with a stealy jaw. (By the way, I own Hepburn's Oscar nomination plaque, which is on display at the Hollywood Museum where you can also see Taylor's costumes and sets from "Cleopatra"). The award went to the undeserving Simone Signoret ("Room at the Top").

One year later, Taylor finally won for an undeserved performance as a high-class call girl in "Butterfield 8" (1960). She beat Greer Garson ("Sunrise at Campobello"), Deborah Kerr ("The Sundowners"), Shirley MacLaine ("The Apartment") and Melina Mercouri ("Never on Sunday").

In later years, Taylor would use profanity to slam and dismiss "Butterfield 8," which she agreed to make only because she was eager to fulfill her contract obligations to MGM and move on. She costarred opposite Eddie Fisher, whom she had recently stolen away from Debbie Reynolds, triggering a national outcry.

As the next Oscar derby began, it looked like Taylor was too engulfed in scandal to win, but she suddenly became a sympathetic figure when she came down with pneumonia and doctors said her condition was "grave." An emergency tracheotomy was performed so she could breathe, Taylor rallied and she showed up on the Oscar red carpet looking frail. When she won, she gasped at the podium, "I don't know how to express my gratitude for this and for everything. All I can say is thank you, thank you with all my heart."

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