Author: J. Randy Taraborrelli
An insightful biography of a true screen legend, this book covers Elizabeth Taylor’s journey through the dark and often lonely world of a fame unparalleled in the 1960s and 1970s, a time during which alcohol and drugs played a major part in her life.
I think it would be pretty hard to write a boring book about Elizabeth Taylor. She was just so interesting, not to mention incredibly flawed.
The writing (or narrating in this case–I got this in audiobook form) was obviously skewed in Elizabeth’s favor, even when she clearly in the wrong. You could tell the author had a lot of affection for her and her life story. The writing was romantic without being sensational. Elizabeth was an interesting book to listen to. The three main emotions that I felt while listening was; sadness, annoyance, and, injustice.
Sadness about the way she was raised, with an overbearing stage mother, and a passive father. Her mother spent so much time trying to give Elizabeth the career that she never got, that she never had a childhood. Elizabeth spent so much time acting, that it took her a long time to understand social and romantic relationships. I felt sad about the fact that her body deteriorated so quickly that by the time she was in her fifties, she had to have both hips replaced. I was sad about the fact that she ended up having seven husbands. Perhaps if Mike Todd hadn’t died, three might have been her lucky number. But, that’s probably unlikely.
Every time Elizabeth made a glaringly bad decision when it came to her husbands, I always became annoyed at her parents, Sarah and Francis. Their marriage and the way Francis let Sarah raise Elizabeth set up a foundation that would have never ended up good. I mean, Sarah had Elizabeth’s studio find her a first date! That’s insane! The author made a point to always relate the way Elizabeth interacted with her husband’s to her parent’s marriage and how she was trying to find a man that supported her like her father never did. I still became annoyed having to her sabotage all of her marriages and live her life obsessed with Richard Burton. Even after he died, she couldn’t stop thinking about him.
The feeling of injustice was again tied to Elizabeth’s childhood and husbands. After the birth of Elizabeth’s last child, it caused her body so much damage that if she became pregnant again, it would kill her. So her doctor as her current husband if he wanted her sterilized. How ridiculous that Elizabeth was never to be in control of herself and her body. Instead of her mother making all of her decisions, it was her husbands. If not her husband, then it was booze or the pills. It was very rare for Elizabeth to make decisions for herself and just herself. She eventually did so and was one of the reasons that AIDs and HIV were finally spoken in public in the 80s.
By the end of the book, the author felt that Elizabeth had finally gotten a happy ending of her own choice. Getting there took pain, two trips to rehab, a brain tumor, and, seven husbands but she got there. I would recommend this book (or audiobook) even if you have zero interest in Elizabeth Taylor. She’s too interesting to ignore.