Five Elizabeth Taylor performances we'll never forget
The legendary Elizabeth Taylor, who died Wednesday morning of congestive heart failure at the age of 79, grew up and matured as a woman and an actress before the eyes of worldwide audiences. One of the few actresses to win two Academy Awards, she gave memorable performances in countless movies over the decades.
Here's a look at five of her best:
"National Velvet": Taylor was all of 11 when she played Velvet Brown in the 1944 Technicolor classic about a British farm girl who rides her horse "The Pie" in England's Grand National Race. The velvet-eyed Taylor is charming and delightful in the film. She was also given the horse who played "The Pie."
"A Place in the Sun": She was all of 19 when she was loaned out from MGM to Paramount to star in George Stevens' haunting 1951 version of Theodore Dreiser's "An American Tragedy." She played Angela Vickers, a beautiful heiress who falls in love with the ill-fated George Eastman (Montgomery Clift). Their first screen kiss is still remarkably erotic.
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?": Taylor packed on the pounds and aging makeup to transform herself from one of the screen's greatest beauties to the frumpy, foul-mouthed Martha in Mike Nichols' 1966 version of Edward Albee's play. She won her second Oscar for playing the vulgar wife of a college professor (Richard Burton).
"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof": Despite the fact that she lost her third husband Mike Todd during the making of this top-notched 1958 adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play, Taylor turns in a fiery, romantic turn as Maggie the Cat who is frustrated with her former football star husband Brick (Paul Newman). Taylor earned a best actress Oscar nomination.
"Suddenly, Last Summer": Taylor also earned an Oscar nomination for best actress, as did costar Katharine Hepburn, in this 1959 melodrama based on Williams' one-act as a young woman who had witnessed the murder of her cousin Sebastian the summer before. The film also marked her last collaboration with Clift. "Suddenly" was directed by Joseph Mankiewicz, who would direct her four years later in the infamous "Cleopatra."
-- Susan King
Photo: Elizabeth Taylor in 1959's "Suddenly, Last Summer." Credit: Reuters / Columbia Pictures