A famous movie star passed away this week and I teared up. What gives? I’ve never been a groupie or read any of the tabloids shouting at us in the checkout line. Magazines like True Romance or Movie Fan or Screen Stories were a no-no in my house when I was growing up. Still, I didn’t live in a glass bubble and yes, even in the small farm town in Iowa, we all knew about Elizabeth Taylor with her exceptional beauty and her scandalous romances and marriages.
What made this famous actress so special to me? Because, in spite of her natural beauty and stardom, she didn’t live that Hollywood perfect life that we early baby boomer gals had been taught to believe really existed. She had affairs and was a home wrecker. So was the wife of the owner of a store in our little town and the father of my best friend. Liz Taylor was a divorcee who remarried. So was a couple who moved into our town and was not welcomed in a particular church society. My mother immediately changed churches to one that welcomed everyone into its arms.
Elizabeth Taylor was a sexpot and a lady at the same time, a concept foreign to young teenage baby boomers in the 60’s. She wore furs and tiaras but had to fight weight problems like many of us. She married eight times and we never considered her a failure. Yet I considered myself a failure after my second divorce.
It wasn't her beauty but her failures, her successes, her weight problems, her health problems, her zest for life, and her randy laugh that made her real to us on screen and in our lives. She was a classy and a bawdy fighter to the end. Elizabeth Taylor was an oxymoron. But aren’t we all? I can only hope.