I was right to be skeptical.
Earlier today, London tabloid the Daily Mail reported that legendary film star Dame Elizabeth Taylor was suffering from heart failure and on the brink of death. The Mail claimed the 74-year-old Oscar-winning actor – often noted more for her many marriages than for her impressive and extensive body of work – was bedridden at her California home and making plans for her own funeral.
Insiders say the British-born star would like to be buried next to former husband Richard Burton. “Liz is inching closer to death every day and she knows it. It is not a pretty picture,” a friend said. “She’s not leaving a lot of money to her children. She wants the bulk of her fortune to go to AIDS research.”
Taylor, who has walked down the aisle eight times, married Burton twice during a tumultuous, jetsetting romance. The Welsh actor died in 1984.
Taylor’s publicist says the story is complete bunk.
From ABC News:
Dick Guttman says that he can refute every allegation in these published reports. In fact, he says they didn’t get anything right.
Guttman says Taylor has a very busy life, with her successful perfume and jewelry lines and the work she does for AIDS.
The Mail scoop – which appears to be based on a WENN.com press release – was reported by a number of movie and news sites, including Hollywood.com and the Evening Standard‘s This Is London.
What caused me to doubt the report was the well-known factoid that Taylor’s friends call her “Elizabeth,” not “Liz,” as a “friend” refers to her in the Mail piece.
At the same time, it is well-documented that the actor’s health has been fragile for years. She is 74. The reasonable assumption is that barring some divine act, we may not have the legend with us for long.
My recommendation: Join me in raising a glass to Dame Elizabeth’s long, happy life – and take an opportunity to reacquaint yourself with the classic films of the violet-eyed beauty. See for yourself the true talent and singular charisma that graced cinema, television and Broadway over the past six decades – and still graces the world of philanthropy.
A short list: her Academy Award-winning turn in Butterfield 8 (1960), her winning debut as a lead actor at the tender age of 12 in 1944’s National Velvet (those are really her eyes – no mascara), the riveting Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), her performance as the blushing bride in the original Father of the Bride (1950), her restless Maggie in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), her portrayal of the raging Katharina (opposite Burton) in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (1967), the over-the-top but fun budget-buster Cleopatra, Giant, which paired Taylor with the late, great James Dean…and who could forget her performance as TV’s Maggie Simpson in the memorable episode when the perennial infant intoned her first English word?
I could go on all day suggesting great Taylor films to see, but you get my meaning. If the legend lives to be 100 – which is hoped – you could spend much of the next 26 years enjoying her huge catalog of films. And you should: Dame Elizabeth Taylor is a treasure, and it behooves us to appreciate and honor her while she’s here.
As for the Daily Mail and WENN.com, I believe there’s a special place in Hell reserved for irresponsible tabloid journalists.