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Elizabeth: The Life of Elizabeth Taylor Paperback – July 10, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Film critic for the London Evening Standard , Walker presentsone of the world's most chronicled women, whose turbulent life hasbeen eerily reflected, or anticipated, in her movies and plays: fromNational Velvet and Cleopatra (on the set of which she fell in lovewith Richard Burton) to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and PrivateLives. Walker shows how Taylor has indulged her passions, re-createdherself in the image of each new lover, husband or project, and in duecourse flourished after rounds of combat with the public, the press,her weight and illness. Unfortunately, Walker repeats himself andreaches unsuccessfully--and unnecessarily--for dramatic effect. Forexample, referring to Taylor's fourth husband, Eddie Fisher, a protegeof her third husband, Mike Todd--who died in a plane crash in1958--Walker writes: "He stepped into Todd's shoes, and ultimatelyinto his bed." Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Walker, British film critic and biographer of stars, will hardly have the last word on Elizabeth Taylor, not as long as there's a tabloid press. His bio is breezy but not too light, colorful but not too gossipy, critical but not too bitchy. Its first half is its better half, detailing Liz's early years at MGM and her marriages to Nicky Hilton and Michael Wilding. Once Richard Burton enters the picture, Walker seems to lose steam and interest. Their most public antics now seem silly and boring, and since her Oscar-winning performance in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? , Taylor's career has been in free fall. Still, a decent addition to the Taylor archives.
- Thomas Wiener, formerly with "American Film," Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (July 10, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802137695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802137692
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #987,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Laura on March 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
In the book The Life of Elizabeth Taylor, Alexander Walker captures the extraordinary beauty's life in every way. Fans will absolutely love this book. It is a thorough in depth biography filled with more than 30 amazing photos of Elizabeth throughout the years.
It starts from the beginning of her life in London where her mother's strong willed attitude pushes Elizabeth forward. Alexander focuses on her success in many movies such as National Velvet, A Place in the Sun, and Cleopatra. The Oscar winning performance she gave in Butterfield 8 and the two academy awards that made her a legend are depicted.
Along with all the positive aspects of her life also came the long downfalls that have intrigued us over the years. Elizabeth's eight marriages are uncovered along with her conniving personality that broke apart other people's marriages. Her obsessions of jewelry, clothing, and sex are exposed. The truth behind her ongoing drug and alcohol abuse is revealed. Elizabeth's suicide attempt at age 29 along with the 73 total hospitalizations throughout her life is publicized. This book shows us the real Elizabeth outside of the glamour. The dramatic experiences with facing the public with the on going scandals and personal tragedies is drawn out for the readers.
This book gives a true insight in Elizabeth Taylor's life. From the high points to downfalls, her life is captured by Alexander Walker to its fullest. Elizabeth's life has been an often-tragic fairytale that people have followed throughout the past 50 years.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
Elizabeth Taylor is a hard person to biograph -- she's been awash on controversy since her teens, and became infamous for her luxe lifestyle and many husbands. So it's an especial credit to Alexander Walker's "Elizabeth," which manages to be fair without fawning.

Taylor was the daughter of American Anglophiles, who moved to Hollywood during WWII. Her mother Sarah (an ex-actress) managed to get her into films, and the rest is cinema history. She seamlessly made the transition from cute child star to teen idol -- right before marrying abusive hotel heir Nicky Hilton.

He was the first of several husbands -- crooner Eddie Fisher, her late soulmate Mike Todd, Brit actor Michael Wilding, a congressman, and most famously Welsh actor Richard Burton. And her tumultuous life was full of gems, health problems, love affairs, and high drama in all she did.

Alexander Walker seems to have a liking for beautiful, legendary actresses with personal problems, so it's inevitable that he would have written about Taylor. The difficult part is balancing her positive and negatives, without either fawning or dragging her through the mud.

And Walker does an excellent job -- Taylor is not a vixen or a harpy, nor is she an angel. Instead, he studies her personality, with its tendency to replace one love with another, as well as seeking a controlling personality to make her feel secure. Whether it's adultery or financial problems, he doesn't judge so much as lay out the facts so readers can judge for themselves.

Best of all, Walker puts a wealth of detail in here. There's plenty of information about her movies, including lesser-known ones like "Cynthia," and Walker describes scenes that mirror or reflect Taylor's talent in detail.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Wiltz on June 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
First things first: I think Elizabeth Taylor was a wonderful woman. My dislike of this book has nothing to do with her or her life. I continue to be inspired by her ability to thrive, no matter the odds. What I'm not inspired by is this book. To me, Walker's writing is melodramatic and repetitive. In the first third of the book, I felt he tried too hard to shoehorn her mother's experiences and influences into Liz's life as guiding principles. These influences are definitely worth mentioning; however, these chapters read as if Walker was proving a thesis, not chronicling the upbringing of one of the world's most intriguing women.

The whole book feels unbalanced, as if Walker is only really interested in Liz's life through the making of Cleopatra. He's very detailed about her experiences as a child, in early films, through her reaction to Mike Todd's tragic death. After that point, the coverage gets spotty. I knew a little about Elizabeth Taylor's life before reading this book, and that little bit told me that she and Richard Burton had an electrifying love affair that changed both of them forever. In this book, Walker gives Burton short shrift. I got the feeling Walker dislikes Burton. He duly notes how Burton and Liz got together, their movies made together, their travels together, and the circumstances leading up to their marriages and divorces. But it seems like some fundamental acceptance of their affair was missing, as if Walker never understood why they stayed together for so long or what Liz saw in him.

For example, Walker printed in full several angry letters Liz's movie studio received when viewers found out about her affair with Burton.
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