Liz Was Hotter than a Two Dollar Pistol


What would my Women’s History month be without Liz? This post was first published in October, 2013 two years after her death on March 23, 2011. Please don’t be disappointed in me for not giving more details of her life, her good works during the AIDS pandemic, or her misdeeds. This was then, and is now, more of a love letter. Relax. Remember when…

 

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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 or 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 mama drove me twenty miles from Richards, Texas (pop. 500) to see the movie at the Miller’s Theater in cosmopolitan Navasota (pop. 5,000).  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; it was then and still 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.

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“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) hanging in his den. I was immediately reminded of the time fifty years ago I fell in love with Elizabeth Taylor, 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.

Stay tuned.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is an essayist with humorist tendencies who periodically indulges her desires to write outside her genre by trying to write fiction and poetry. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike and Charly. Her Texas roots are never far from her thoughts.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, photography, politics, racism, Reflections, sexism, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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