I grew up watching old movies, or “classics” as they call them these days. My favorite films starred women who were dazzling, sexy, brash, smart, funny and full of moxie. I knew from a young age that being a woman could be way more fun than being a man. Women like Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Stanwyck, and of course Elizabeth Taylor shaped the woman I would one day become. Dame Liz died this week leaving a large pair of stilettos to be filled by todays actresses.
Elizabeth Taylor never apologised for the way she lived her life, and I loved that about her. She collected big jewels, husbands, gossip and acclaim. She lived her life loud and with passion – she was frank, sexual and fierce. She was a real woman. Elizabeth Taylor had opinions about everything and wasn’t afraid of what the press or the public would think about them. She was a Hollywood icon, a feminist and a personal hero of mine.
Liz Taylor took on roles that challenged the conventional ideas of women. Her very first role (at age 12!) in National Velvet was ground breaking. She played a female jockey. She didn’t stop there. Liz went on to play single mothers, call girls, queens, and women who had to fight for their loves, their lives and their sanity.
My favorite film of hers is “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” where she played the crazy, abusive, alcoholic Martha. There was nothing glamorous about this role. She was fat, ugly and frightening. She was mean, cruel and totally bad ass. And Liz took the role without a thought about what it would do to her “image”.
I think that is a lesson that today’s leading ladies could stand to learn. It’s not about what people think of you, or what the press has to say about you. It is about being yourself at all times and not giving a shit. She stood up for what she believed in both personally and professionally and she did it with class. I think that most actresses today are too afraid of “bad press” to stand up for anything, or take on challenging roles professionally. Liz would have NEVER played a woman who’s only goal in life was to catch a man. She would have never taken a role that made women look cheap and stupid. I couldn’t imagine Katherine Heigl or Anne Hathaway taking on the roles that Elizabeth Taylor did, and doing them without a single excuse or apology.
And that is class. Liz Taylor will be missed, but more than that she will be remembered.