Maggie the Cat in famous lingerie
The stuff that dreams are made of
My love affair with Elizabeth Taylor has lasted longer than any of my real-life relationships and all of her eight marriages. Liz and I go way back.
We started in 1956 with Giant which I got to see because my mother heard it was a historical movie about West Texas oil. I was ten years old at the time she took me to see it at the Miller’s Theater in Navasota, and I decided right then and there if this was how history looked, I was all about yesterday. I fell in love with the heroine who was married to Rock Hudson but wild for James Dean. She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
The following year Raintree County was released, and it was then and is today my most favorite silver screen experience with this Golden Age of Hollywood icon. She was “hotter than a two dollar pistol and the fastest thing around…” as George Jones sang twenty years later. For two and a half hours, I lusted after Liz who played Susanna the Hottie southern belle who stole Johnny Shawnessy from boring whiny Nell. I never understood why two women would be in love with Montgomery Clift anyway, but I certainly knew why he was taken with Liz.
“Look at the birdie, look at the tree…my gal’s the prettiest in the whole county.”
from Raintree County
I’ve seen that movie countless times with its Gone With the Wind wannabes and celebrated flaws, but I truly don’t care. For some of her fans, Liz will be remembered as Maggie the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in the sexy slip or Catherine in the white bathing suit in Suddenly, Last Summer or the scandalous affairs with co-stars Eddie Fisher and Richard Burton on the sets of Butterfield 8 and Cleopatra, respectively. Others will see her as the child star in National Velvet and the Lassie movies or the deranged middle-aged Martha in 1966 in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for which she won her second Oscar.
She will be remembered by many for her notorious marriages and divorces – all eight of them – think Debbie Reynolds, for example. Then think Richard Burton and Cleopatra. If you remember the hullabaloo from those torrid days, you must also remember the Voting Rights Act of 1965…an act that the Supremes struck down this year. But don’t get me started on that.
Why Liz? Why now, you ask?
I visited a friend this week and saw the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof poster (a poster he bought from me at one of our downsizing yard sales!) and was reminded of the time fifty years ago when I fell in love with Elizabeth Taylor and wrote her a fan letter and received a glossy 5 x 7 “autographed” photo of her from MGM. Love, Liz, she signed.
And I do.