Friday, March 25, 2011

The Most Beautiful Woman In The World

I have written about the late Elizabeth Taylor before, as perceived celebrity look-alike and personal style icon (though her blonde phase was unforgivable, and the slideshow here reminds me that caftans are really a bad idea).

I have not previously mentioned that she also influenced my career choices, as I owned a battered tag-sale copy of her first memoir, Nibbles and Me, written in 1946 at age 14, after she first achieved fame in National Velvet. It had a sprightly tone (in hindsight, I suspect some ghostwriting assistance), her own illustrations, and sweet stories about her pet chipmunk Nibbles.

So much has been said about the legendary star in the past few days that adds to my admiration of her. I had forgotten that she was Jewish (she converted to marry Eddie Fisher), and scorned those who disparaged those of us of the Hebraic persuasion. She was also buried, in the Jewish tradition, within 48 hours.

Her support of people with AIDS was awe-inspiring, including her stint as founding chairman of amFAR and later her own foundation. To the end of her life, she stayed true to her friends, her beliefs, and her large family (10 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren).

That's what really made her the most beautiful woman in the world. And, whether as herself or as Cleopatra - the campy four-hour movie that made her the first star to earn a million dollars for a role and nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox - she sure knew how to make an entrance.

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