Thursday, March 24, 2011

Farewell Elizabeth Taylor

Four weeks ago, when Egyptian protests were in the headlines and the news that Elizabeth Taylor was hospitalized, I had an intuitive feeling. I felt in my gut that Egypt had a very bright future ahead. But as far as the outcome of Liz Taylor's new health crisis? Not so much. So on a quiet Saturday night, I scrolled through some On Demand movies and thought watching Cleopatra would be quite appropo.

I last watched the film as a kid at a drive-in movie in the early '60s. As a five-year old, I was enchanted by Elizabeth Taylor's spectacular beauty. And when I watched the movie a month ago, I was just as captivated by her commanding presence on the screen. Even though the movie was incredibly long--lasting four hours, I turned off the TV at 2:00am and fell to sleep with visions of Elizabeth's beautiful gowns, dramatic makeup and perfectly delivered lines swirling in my head.

I had the good fortune of seeing Elizabeth Taylor in New York City back in 1983. It was a beautiful sunny June day--Flag day--and Liz happened to be performing on Broadway that summer. There was a celebration in Central Park commorating Flag Day and Liz was asked to get up on the podium and say a few nice words about the USA. She did it alright, with much passion and flourish. I was on my 10-speed bike watching the whole spectacle as she descended from the stage and walked out of the park surrounded by the bright flashes of photographers. At one point, we made eye contact, and I thought about rushing up to her and trying to get her autograph. But thought better of it. I was a New Yorker then, after all, and that meant you had to be nonchalant about celebrity sightings.

She must of been about 51 years at the time, around the age I am now. She was wearing a simple T-shirt and jeans. But I do remember her eyes. I think when she looked at me with those steely light blue-violet eyes, it was just too intimidating to do anything but stare.

Of course, now I wish I had been bold enough to approach her, get an autograph and have a better story to tell. But I feel lucky that I did see this movie icon, whose death marks the end of an era.

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