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Farewell, Miss Taylor! And the Critics Be Damned!

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Elizabeth Taylor has been gone a week, and everyone’s had their say. “The Passing of a Legend.” “Glamour is Gone.” “The End of a Hollywood Era.”

With a quick and brief funeral, her passing has already become last week’s news. I understand. But I sat back amused all week at the coverage of her life. You’re probably aware that news organizations have canned obituaries for every celebrity, politician, and dignitary on earth ready to go, just waiting for the last gasp of air and last lurid detail before this poorly-edited and ill-considered material is thrown out onto the airwaves.Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra

In Miss Taylor’s case, her canned obituary (some 50 years in development) contained all the idiotic remarks from ancient (probably dead) so-called “critics” who were constantly ripping her apart.

Never mind her growth as a human being and skills as an actress. “Her acting is stiff and wooden,” they said. “She can’t deliver a line.” But was this Miss Taylor’s fault?

No! She only needed good material, good writing, and a good director.

To prove every last one of her critics and detractors one-hundred-percent wrong, we need only look at her performances in Suddenly Last Summer (written by the incomparable Tennessee Williams, for God’s sake, and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz). And also Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (written by the amazing Edward Albee and directed by Mike Nichols).

Wolf Blitzer, on CNN last week, called Miss Taylor “a truly great actress.” Well, true enough, if given good material, and a good director. But she did have some bombs, as we all know, when poorly handled. One was an obscure and little-mentioned work called Boom co-starring Richard Burton. But even in this badly-written piece, we have the first glimmers of what would eventually show up in her performance in Virginia Woolf. (I love Boom for all the glamour, and the blowing curtains on her own private Greek island. Ha!)

Everyone else has covered Miss Taylor’s humanity, philanthropy, and devotion to unpopular causes, so I need not go into all that. All I wanted to say tonight is that I am sure you will rest in peace, Miss Taylor, because none of your cheap and cheesy critics and detractors could have possibly made it to the place where you are going.

We’ll miss your beauty and glamour, always!

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About Andrew Williams