It was those eyes. Those ridiculous, unfeasible violet eyes. That’s what made me, and millions of other movie-goers, sit up and take notice of Elizabeth Taylor over a film career that lasted more than six decades. A much, much better actress than her voluptuous, glamorous sexiness might, at first glance, suggest, she had an incredible screen presence, a huge acting talent, and the knack of making even the daftest films oddly watchable (Cleopatra, anyone?). Nominated for the ‘Best Actress’ Oscar five times, she won it twice – alongside many other acting awards – and performed with countless members of the Hollywood aristocracy over her long and eventful career.
There is no doubt her life was an intense one by most people’s standards and that she was one tough cookie – anyone who can survive child stardom in the Hollywood studio system of the 1940s, a grand total of eight marriages (two of which were to that notorious Welsh actor and professional hellraiser Richard Burton), well-publicised drug and alcohol addictions, and some very serious ill health would have to be, quite frankly. It was Burton who, half awestruck and half exasperated, described her as “too bloody much”; their tempestuous and profoundly passionate relationship (which began on the set of Cleopatra – see photo, above) made headlines around the world.