❚ ENGLISH-BORN DAME ELIZABETH TAYLOR, one of cinema’s biggest stars, the epitome of celebrity itself, has died in Los Angeles aged 79. As the woman of the age, she was renowned for her magnificent beauty, her fierce independence, her daring and insolence. Her most notable performances are seen in National Velvet, Cleopatra and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — one of 12 films with the great British actor Richard Burton, in his day the highest-paid in Hollywood. Taylor herself was the first woman to be cast in a $1m role, that of Cleopatra, pictured in the epic with Burton on the Time cover, below. He married her twice in possibly the longest-running love story in showbiz, marked by its passion and turbulence.
Taylor won four Oscar nominations between 1958 and 1961, for Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer and triumphed at her fourth attempt with Butterfield 8. Of screen-acting she said: “I learned that you had to feel it in your gut, and your guts had to get in an uproar.”
Her own favourite movie was Mike Nichols’s caustic portrait of a car-crash marriage, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966, above, nominated for 13 Academy Awards among which Taylor won Best Actress playing opposite her own husband Burton). Her beauty at age 18 is breath-taking as she plays a society girl alongside Montgomery Clift in the romantic drama A Place in the Sun (1951, below), directed by George Stevens. Beneath that a third clip shows Taylor giving full value as the mystery guest on the CBS television panel game What’s My Line? in 1954. It is a gem.