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Rants and Raves: Elizabeth Taylor

Legendary Actress Dies at 79

Elizabeth Taylor in her MGM days.

Credit: MGM

Above: Elizabeth Taylor in her MGM days.

Elizabeth Taylor, 79, passed away today, and with her goes some genuine old school Hollywood glamour.

I just had a discussion on my Cinema Junkie Facebook page about who do you think is drop dead gorgeous and she was the first one I listed. And she was, especially when she was young and aimed those piercing violet eyes in your direction. She made her first screen appearance at 9 and was a star by the age of 12 with "National Velvet." She was groomed for stardom by MGM at a time when the studio system was still in place. Although her initial roles banked more on her luminous looks she quickly proved she had acting chops as well with roles in "Father of the Bride," "A Place in the Sun," and "Giant." But she won her first Oscar for "Butterfield 8," a role she said stunk. Her second Best Actress, however, was well-deserved for her work in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?," a film she did with her then husband Richard Burton. Here's a scene.

Clip: 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

A clip from "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

Liz and Dick played up their tumultuous off screen relationship by starring in Franco Zeffirelli's "Taming of the Shrew." And that's part of Taylor's legacy too – she was probably as well known for her work on screen as for her life off screen with on-set scandals, multiple husbands, and fluctuating weight.

Elizabeth Taylor was both a star and an actress. She could simply adorn a film like "Ivanhoe" or Quo Vadis," but then she could dazzle in films like "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Suddenly Last Summer." She also made some glorious turkeys like "Boom!" and "Cleopatra." But no matter what the film or what the part, she was always radiant and had a fiery spark that always made her worth watching. She will be missed.

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