You may feel as though you’ve read all you care to about Elizabeth Taylor, the lavender eyed bombshell known for diamonds and decadence. You may feel her history is too celeb~utante or slutty to trifle with, while real issues consume our world.  If however, you want to read a 446 page book about an inspiring woman who took agency of her life, long before it was a powerful movement, “Elizabeth Taylor: the Grit and Glamour of an Icon” maybe a perfect biography for you to explore. Without calling Woman’s Rights her cause, she earned a place in the pantheon of the woman’s movement. Turn’s out the bombshell really was just that!

Parts of the book written by New York Times Best Selling author Kate Anderson Brower may come off as a bit contrived. Recounting challenges of childhood with an overbearing mother filled with frustrations, and a somewhat removed, artistic father is the stock and trade of Freudian analysis.  A chronicle of Elizabeth’s passage from child star to ingenue feels implausibly magical at times. The book implies her double stacked eyelashes and sensual face were always too much for grown men to resist.

Forever a study in contrasts, it’s difficult to imagine a young woman in the early years of Hollywood maintaining her career after rebranding a studio head, Louis B. Mayer,  as ‘ more monster than mogul’. Yet, Elizabeth prevailed. The equestrian accomplishments of child-star Elizabeth are part of her legend and legendary health problems. Her talents were simultaneously celebrated and trashed the world over.

As the bio progress it becomes more relatable. Elizabeth Taylor, a super-star of her times, was addicted more to homey creature comforts than the vapid veneer of Hollywood. The read requires compassion. For much of her life,Taylor’s days seemed to be without compass. She was a sensitive woman living within a chaotic vortex of big business, beauty, privilege, high-octane sex and higher-octane substance abuse.

Romances for Elizabeth moved beyond salacious into scandalous. Known for marrying early and often this book is a timeline of affairs and marriages that include her passion for collecting family-jewels from multiple lovers. That aside, Elizabeth’s image transitioned past coquettish stories of husband stealing into fascinating insights of how she leveraged her identity as a commodity. She knew she was more than a frivolous flirt with a pretty face and a body for days. Dismissive of accepting beauty as her only asset, Taylor strategically fused her glamorous appearance with her talent for intellectual capacity.  Bower’s story of Elizabeth Taylor recounts the good, the bad and the very ugly parts of a consummately capable broad in business.

Calculating her industrial worth Elizabeth Taylor was first to demand a million dollars for a film. Unsatisfied with contract details she further demanded location changes, the right to cast her co-stars  and autonomy to create her own cosmetic look for Cleopatra. She was a multi-dimensional Dame in her field. As her star rose so too did her ability to negotiate societal change. Next time you race into a ladies room, you can thank Elizabeth Taylor for twisting the arm of her husband Sen.John Warner and his colleague Senator Ted Kennedy for mandating bathroom stalls be free of coin-locks.  Without saying so directly, Elizabeth Taylor intentionally mapped the way for other women to follow her leading-role down many cultural lanes.

To her credit, Kate Brower, annexes the facets of Elizabeth Taylor’s legacy to candidly include the star’s emotional attachments and values. Taylor loved her family, lovers, friends, children and pets whole-heartedly. When hardship touched her loved ones Elizabeth would collapse then rally to fight for their dignity. In time, she found her North Star. Her compass lead her to dedicate her personal life and business acumen to serving humanity, most especially the crusade to support AIDS research.

Ahead of her time in so many ways, Elizabeth Taylor was unapologetic about her sensuality. She craved sexual connection. She loved the pleasures of sex. Elizabeth Taylor-Hilton-Wilding-Todd-Fisher-Burton-Burton-Warner-Fortensky loved being in love, making love, and portraying a woman in love in it’s many incarnations. She shrugged off attacks on her choice of theatrically provocative roles and defied objection to her enthusiastic embrace of carnal pleasures.  A timeless beauty with a truck drivers mouth and a heart that continues to fund philanthropy is the meaningful story of ” Elizabeth Taylor: The Grit and Glamour of an Icon”. 

Elizabeth Taylor, a child of February, an Icon of Grit and Glamour wrote the book on how to embrace the agency and power of being true to yourself.

 

PHOTO CREDIT Architectural Digest JULY 2011. “Taylor in her home office, 1997, with a wall of photographs depicting family and friends. At the lower right is her ” A Place in the Sun costar Montgomery Clift; in the top row is the Duchess of Windsor. “

 

ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST COVER: July 2011 ,Dame Elizabeth Taylor


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