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What I Found Out About Liz Taylor,
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This review is from: How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood (Paperback)
I didn't know much about Liz Taylor, she was before my time, being a star of the 1950's and early 1960's. I decided to get this book because I really liked her diet book, which was written after she got out of rehab, and wanted to find out more about her. In spite of the positive and sympathetic portrayal of her by the author, the more I read, the less I liked the woman. She came through as being greedy, demanding, and a spoiled brat. I learned several things about her from reading this book:
1. She gave up her US citizenship to avoid income taxes and kept her British citizenship. That meant she was not actually a US citizen when she was married to Senator Warner. She lost some of my respect there and so did he. Of course it was obvious he just used her to get elected.
2. The public hysteria was not spontaneous, it was hype generated by Taylor's personal publicists. I did not know that before I read this book.
3. She did not actually raise her several children herself, hired nannies did it and she just visited with the kids for a little while in the evenings. On the one hand, I think she would have been a better, more grounded person if she had been a more involved, hands-on mother, but on the other hand, it might have been hard on the kids. So who knows.
4. Mann tries to make the case that Taylor was single-handedly responsible for changing the times sociologically. I disagree. Times change, yes, but there are many factors involved. Taylor was just acting out the "me first want it all now no matter what" excesses that were normal for her. Typical of an addict, indulging her addictions was what her life revolved around, and so she could not understand the effect her behavior was having on other people.
5. Taylor never really succeeded in making the transition from film star to actress because she had no interest in doing that. She had no interest in acting. She just wanted to be a rich famous celebrity because of the lifestyle it afforded her, and wanted to marry a rich man to keep her. She was tired of working for a living and had the idea a woman is nothing without a man. So I guess she was a product of the thinking of that era. I think that is at the bottom of her many marriages, antiquated thinking.
6. Taylor's last major film was 1966 which is why I didn't know much about her before I read this book. It was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
7. Taylor managed to turn in a real acting performance with movies she made with Burton after the Cleopatra disaster, because she had his coaching and she wanted to please him. She never did anything noteworthy regarding acting after they split and her acting never ranked with the likes of Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, or Sandy Dennis for example because she coasted on her looks. Her attempt at stage acting when she was married to Warner was because she was bored and trying to find something to do to get her out of town since she didn't fit in with the other Washington wives.
All in all, a very interesting book.