17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2006
I have been a fan of Elizabeth Taylor's since I was 8 years old, and still learned more details about her life that I had not known. [...] This book is highly entertaining, well written, and excellent reading for any Elizabeth Taylor fan.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2007
.....this is a wonderful book to begin. I picked up this book not knowing much at all Elizabeth Taylor. After I finished, I felt I knew not about what was written about her in the tabloids but about the real woman that she was/is. The book is written from an objective standpoint and tells the "good and the bad" about a woman who's career spans 5 decades plus. Whether the reader likes her initially or not (based on previous thoughts/beliefs), I recommend this reading to anyone who has any interest in her at all or who just wants to read about a good book about a woman who's seeminly made an inpact on pop culture from decades past to present.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2006
I was not a Elizabeth Taylor fan before I read this fascinating book. I was a little overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the book itself, being rather thick. I wondered if it would hold my attention very long. To my surprise, I was so fascinated by the life of Elizabeth Taylor. She truly has had an amazing life! I was spellbound from the first chapter of this book. I hated to put it down.
This version of her life story really makes you feel as though you actually know Elizabeth Taylor personally. I am now a HUGE fan, and I admire this classy woman so much as a person, void of the Elizabeth Taylor persona she seems to turn on at will. This book brilliantly points out the extremely generous side of one of Hollywood's Living Legends.
Definitely a MUST READ for any Elizabeth Taylor fan, or just a fan of Hollywood reading. You WILL be a fan after reading it!
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2007
The Washington Post got this book right: This is a shallow, gushy, cut-and-paste puff piece posing as biography.
Author J. Randy Taraborrelli seems unable, even with a team of researchers, to quote accurately from the books from which he cribs his material ("Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair With Jewelry," in particular, from which he lifts many anecdotes without attribution).
Taraborrelli's insight, if you can call it that, on Taylor is that she is not too introspective (no!) and that fame corrupts (how deep!).
He gives a superficial account of early Taylor's life. Her childhood and first four marriages whiz by like the unspooling of an outdated filmstrip. Given Taylor's assertion that her father "batted me around a bit," the book's omission of this aspect of her childhood is glaring. As Taylor's life progresses, Taraborrelli adds more detail as source material becomes easier to find. The reader then is treated to all kinds of meaningless vignettes about Taylor's last three marriages, and torturous detail about her recurring addictions and multiplying health problems (though details seem to conflict with other sources).
Taraborrelli gushes over Taylor's beauty, the (questionable) talents of her many spouses, and how miraculously well-adjusted and normal her children are. Some of these descriptions are obsequious enough to induce a cringe. Other descriptions make one wonder just how much research he did for this book. For instance, he never explored references to one of Taylor's sons having joined a cult in his youth, and descriptions elsewhere of her children being dirty and neglected while she drank and partied.
The book makes clear that Taraborrelli or his staff did interview people, probably a lot of people. But the quality of the interviews and the insight they offer is lacking. Taraborrelli quotes a flip and brittle Eddie Fisher offering nothing of substance. Taraborrelli even asks rhetorically why Taylor still bears a grudge against Fisher, not realizing the irony that this is the kind of question he should theoretically be trying to answer. He also interviews a bevy of people ancillary to the action, such as the son of a film director describing one of what must have been one of many Burton-Taylor makeout sessions on the set of "Cleopatra."
This isn't the first Taraborrelli celebrity bio in which he buries the reader in an avalanche of meaningless gossip-mag minutiae, easily culled from readily available books and magazines, but fails to do any enterprising research of his own. For instance, in the 576 pages of excruciating detail in "Call Her Miss Ross," Taraborrelli neglected to mention that Diana Ross and Berry Gordy had a child together (beyond coyly stating that her oldest child didn't resemble her then-husband).
I'm sure this book will make money hand over fist, which is all that matters to Taraborrelli (that and maybe getting to brown-nose the celebrity in person). But if you want to respect yourself later, flip to the photos, then put this book back where you found it.
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
If J. Randy Taraborrelli wanted to write a book about Liz and Dick, he should have just cut to the chase and done it. Because that is the only real information of substance in "Elizabeth," a patchy and rehashed biography of the screen legend. In the end, the only people who get any attention are Liz and Dick.
Elizabeth Taylor was born to the quintessential stage mom, who kept her apart from her father and brother, and turned her into a winsome child star. She was America's sultry, sweet young girl, who married a millionaire playboy -- and divorced him after he abused her.
A string of high-profile husbands immediately followed, and Taylor's image changed from widow to lusty black widow, from international glamour star to a gracious politician's wife. But she had more than marriages in her life -- she also had numerous health problems, overdoses, an addiction to painkillers that led to a stint at the Betty Ford, and finally work as an AIDS rights activist.
Taraborrelli obviously has a lot of enthusiasm for Taylor, but there aren't many facts that haven't beem covered by other books. So he settles for focusing on the lives of certain peripheral characters (such as Francis, Taylor's downtrodden father), and trying to understand Taylor's emotions and motivations throughout the worst times of her life.
Unfortunately, there's still nothing here that is new, and Taraborrelli can't quite keep himself from including items that are of sketchy origin -- they read like he was writing a novel. Her movies are pretty much footnotes, and he tends to skim over the scandals, overdoses and the reasons for some of her divorces -- namely, Taylor's own capriciousness.
Even worse, Taylor's first four husbands are faceless footnotes, even her vibrant soulmate Mike Todd. The first (and almost only) is Husband No. 5 and 6, Richard Burton. who gets swooning details about his physical and personal life. In fact, the only area of the book that really has Taraborrelli's full enthusiasm is when Taylor is wed to or performing with Burton. There's more attention on one play with Burton than there is in her whole marriage to John Warner.
The pictures are interesting but incomplete. It could have used some more pictures of Taylor throughout her life, but settles for one or two pics per hubby, and then a few more. But there are some rarities here, like Taylor as a child with her father, or a previously unseen still in the "Cleopatra I" costume. That Sarah Brightman crown and skimpy sixties dress look kind of silly.
"Elizabeth" tells us very little that is new, and ignores too much of the old. Taraborrelli clearly wanted to write a biography of the quintessential celebrity supercouple, but the full Taylor bio simply doesn't work.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2006
I've been a fan of Elizabeth Taylor's for almost longer than I can remember, and there isn't a book about her that I don't have, but this is one that even I could have done without.
There is nothing new here, and some things - the dynamics between Taylor and her parents, for example - are analyzed for what feels like several thousand pages. The book is a difficult read as well, due to the oddly florid and sophomoric writing by author Taraborelli.
For anyone who's curious, the best book about the actress is still Brenda Maddox's "Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor?", published back in 1978. Admmittedly out of date now, it's still remarkably insightful and well written, and worth searching for.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Elizabeth "Don't Call Her Liz" Taylor has had such a crazy life, punctuated by frequent illnesses (at one point, the author provides a list of the health crises she'd suffered -- and it's a long one -- before she'd even turned thirty) and marriages and divorces and scandals and weight gains and weight losses and multiple trips to rehab, that it is easy to overlook what a great actress she was. Of course, many of her movies were lousy, but even in a turkey like "Butterfield 8" (which Taylor herself detested and only did because she was forced to), she gave a terrific performance.
Oh, and she was beautiful too. Very beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that had she not already established herself as a fine actress from childhood, she may have been dismissed as purely ornamental. No one has had a face like Taylor's -- the sable hair, the flawless skin, the perfectly-formed lips, the incredible eyes (not violet, as legend has it, but a luminous blue, surrounded by, as is revealed in the book, a double set of eyelashes), and as if all that wasn't enough, she had a stunning hourglass figure.
Yet, she has never been fixated on her own looks; her mother Sara is quoted as saying, "She has no idea how beautiful she is," and though that's commonly said about beautiful people, I'm inclined to believe that it is true in Taylor's case. This book doesn't shy away from showing Taylor's flaws -- basically, she's monstrously spoiled, selfish, childish, tantrum-prone, and sometimes downright nightmarish -- but vanity is not one of them.
This biography has many surprisingly touching moments which help balance out some of the more appalling scenes. Sometimes she was such a pill that it's hard to fathom why anyone put up with her. But it's clear that she met her match in Richard Burton, who was just as much of a pill as she was. Burton was perhaps the only person who had no qualms whatsoever about insulting Taylor to her face, and he really could be cruel. Given the knock-down drag-out fights they had in public, it is more than a little scary to imagine what their private fights were like.
In sum: this book doesn't contain any earthshattering revelations, although it does have some rare photographs, such as one of Taylor's mother Sara during her brief spate as an actress. However, it is written with great affection and respect, and it is a fascinating story.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2006
save your money/don't waste your time reading this book. not only is taraborrelli an atrocious writer, this book is only a clip job. he has no new sources except for a beverly hills hairdresser who's not really giving up any inside info on Liz as he's still doing her hair. he's lifted any anecdotes in this book from all the preceeding Liz books and it's torture to have read his writing. it's stupifying that he even gets published but it shows you that some publishers are desperate for any celebrity book on their list.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2006
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Dame Elizabeth is a true star, the so called stars of today pale next to her. I didn't think there could be anything else to write on her. But Mr. Taraborrleei did find some interesting and new thing to read about the ever fascinating Taylor. As a long time fan I couldn't put the book down. I would lke to read a book on just her films and the peope who worked with her. There was pure magic looking up at that face, sometimes you forgot what a true great actress she was. Thank you, Randy.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2008
I didn't know much about Elizabeth Taylor before I read this book, but I am a fan now. Other reviewers have criticized this book for repeating information found in other Taylor sources, and I can't comment on that. As a read...this book is a little tedious. I purchased it from the bargain book rack at Borders. I probably wouldn't have read it otherwise, but I'm glad to know more about such a fascinating American icon.