I have never been in a room with the Oscar winner, never seen in person the eyes that shone like violet diamonds. But I don’t for a second doubt that whenever she walked into a room, there were gasps. You could tell from her movies (and perhaps also from her marriages) — she had the kind of presence that short-circuited guys’ brains.
And, I shouldn’t have to but will mention, anyway, you could tell just as easily that Dame Liz was a force of nature from her tube appearances. In her brief 1981 visit to General Hospital, she embodied villainess Helena Cassadine with a glamour and gravitas that was eerily seductive.
The Simpsons knew, too, that when it came to Taylor, neither the size of the screen, nor the extent of the part, mattered: They chose her to speak baby Maggie’s first word (“Daddy”) way back in Season 4.
However, it isn’t the Hollywood icon’s “it” factor that left me so enamored of her, nor is that what’s left me so saddened by her passing. It’s that, for all the talk about how beautiful she was, there was never a moment that I didn’t feel like she backed up her style with substance. Whether fiery or funny, violent or vulnerable, she was “there,” in the moment, rolling with the punches and sometimes throwing them herself.
Does any actress of today give you that same sense of danger and enticement? Could any? I don’t think so. But I’m open to discussion. Feel free to try to cheer me up below.
TCM will air a 24-hour movie marathon tribute to Elizabeth Taylor on Sunday, April 10, starting at 6 am EST. Father of the Bride, National Velvet, BUtterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? are just some of the films to be featured.