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Five Elizabeth Taylor performances we'll never forget

March 23, 2011 | 10:16 am

Elizabeth Taylor

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.

PHOTOS: Highlights from Elizabeth Taylor's movie career.

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."


Elizabeth Taylor: An appreciation

Elizabeth Taylor obituary: Legendary actress dies at 79

-- Susan King

Photo: Elizabeth Taylor in 1959's "Suddenly, Last Summer." Credit: Reuters / Columbia Pictures


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Hollywood executives are casting for Elizabeth Taylor. Rumored scripts include emphasis on her marriage with Richard Burton, Eddie Fisher, and her friendship with Michael Jackson and Rock Hudson.Who is going to be the next Elizabeth Taylor? I just got a call from a girl that wanted to model for one of my book covers. Her agent called from the Lot, the independent studio started by Charlie Chaplin off Santa Monica Boulevard. They have a role for a movie straight to DVD. The timing is ripe, desperate people need money, this story with Elizabeth Taylor is hot, they are going to produce it before the mood cools. The worst scripts I hear are poorly written the way a writer tries to express the conflict between Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. Terrible dialogue, no real story, I mean she lived 70 years. That is a lot to express in 90 minutes on film. But there are so many producers on the phone today trying to get funding that viewers will see a mix of movies made for television, movies straight to DVD. No one can keep up with the attraction for making money off this tragedy. All the films seem to focus on a few minutes for MGM's National Velvet, each page equals one minute of film time, so far eight pages go to Giant with Rock Hudson, four and a half pages on Cleopatra, mostly marriage drama surrounding Richard Burton, of course. Plus there are rewrites on her winning her first Academy Award as Best Actress with Eddie Fisher. Few of the screenplays have gotten into her acting during the golden age of Hollywood filmmaking. Most are centered around drama, sex, and problems with her marriages. Most endings look incomplete. I am sure Larry Flynt with Hustler, Vivid Entertainment, the adult filmmakers are going to jump on this too - Adult directors have a porn star girl lined up with the industry named Lizz Tayler from Phoenix, Arizona who is being represented by agents in West Hollywood. Everybody is going after this opportunity to the adult industry no matter who the celebrity is. Celebrity branding, internet sales, advertising advantage - Plus the girls will be acting in parody porn films by the middle of next week when these adult studios start pushing out free clips now online with actresses like this Arizona girl, Lizz Tayler from Phoenix. Many of the scripts written - at least three dozen - are having their story arcs rewritten as these words are written. Some of the scripts are simply unreadable. They remind you of the 2011 Marilyn Monroe movie Blonde with Poppy Montgomery and Patricia Richardson. I will keep you posted on what Layla tells me about the casting.

Thomas Chi



Seeking Sarah Palin Impersonators

RIP Elizabeth Taylor. Here's a public online memorial of her, please go leave your words and prayers.


"A Place in the Sun": scene with her and Montgomery Clift in pool room was her best. I think she was doing a little
bettie davis

"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.

I remember her when she visited Wales with her husband Rich Burton she was so stunningly beautiful she took your breath-away a remarkable talent lady who did so much for charities. legend gone forever

This is for you Ms.Taylor, and All of your Friends in L.A. TimesLand ~


Cheers, Federico

"first screen kiss is still remarkably erotic." Really?? You need to get out more...

"A place in the Sun" come to mama..when monty laid eyes on Liz ..Shelly Winters was history. Liz lived, loved and did it her way..RIP

Yes Hoop, it's a good choice to denigrate what others appreciate by suggesting they are lacking in the depravity or vulgarity departments. Have you ever even seen "A Place in the Sun" or do you just assume, sight unseen, that it can't rival last night's offering on Cinemax?

Elizabeth Taylor made a lot of great films and wasn't just a fine actress and a great star, she, like a few other stars of her era (Marilyn Monroe comes to mind as well) had a magnetic power and a seductiveness that doesn't even exist anymore, by and large because of the removal of any emotion from the act of sex. The act of copulation has become nothing more than a naked, emotionless handshake between strangers. Pornography is not erotic, it's the opposite of erotic.

It's you who needs to get out more. Or maybe stay in more, maybe read, watch a movie with some artistic and narrative content, maybe think about sex as something other than an isolated physical act. Eroticism is about possibility, not the heartless slamming together of body parts.

Today we lost someone who captured people's imaginations. That's not so easy to find anymore. Try thinking about why people feel the way they do about Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Humphrey Bogart and others of their era and echelon. Imagine who of today's stars could ever hold a similar place in people's imaginations. Then give respect where it's due. Try being less cynical.

None of those films were my favorite. I liked Elizabeth Taylor best in "The Taming Of The Shrew."

She was the most captivating and gorgeous actress alive. Being a student at high school I skipped classes to watch "Cleopatra" , "Taming of the Shrewd" etc for numerous times on end. She and Richard Burton created for me an ideal that surpassed all the imagination and dreams of an young teenager. With her death I lost my belief in eternal love and beauty. It is very sad and sobering...


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