Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

She was a Hilton long before Paris Hilton.
Decades before Survivor she defined what it means to survive and thrive.
Long before "American Idol" her beauty and talent made her a modern day icon.
She never needed Maybelline because she was born with double rows of eyelashes on each eye. And before botox and collagen and silicon her natural endowments made all of us star struck.
Before anyone even knew the word "bling" she collected diamonds and precious gems as if they were rock candy. But none of the gems ever dazzled quite as much as her luminescent, violet eyes.
By now you must know that I’m talking about Elizabeth Taylor, the last of the great Hollywood stars.
While many of today’s stars come off as shallow and transitory Elizabeth Taylor endures. Through six decades, eight marriages, seven husbands, 59 films and numerous near-death experiences she has remained a shrewd, complex and captivating personality: a loyal friend, a clever businesswoman, a compassionate citizen and even a savvy politician.
She predated the sexual and individual-rights revolutions by making her own rules and charting her own course, for better or worse. Long before most people even thought of women as entrepreneurs she built successful businesses and amassed hundreds of millions of dollars. Her perfumes are among the best selling fragrances of all time, earning an estimated $200 million in annual sales. Her net worth has been estimated at more than a billion dollars.
To call Elizabeth Taylor a trailblazer would be an understatement. Do you admire Oprah’s generosity or Angelina’s self-proclaimed concern for children or any star’s triumph over substance abuse? Elizabeth Taylor’s been there, done that.
When she adopted a sickly little girl from an impoverished family in Mering, Germany in 1962 people said the child would never survive and they questioned whether Elizabeth Taylor would dedicate the necessary time and money to the child’s well being. But Elizabeth Taylor saw the child through more than 10 operations to correct congenital defects and today, that little girl is 48-eight-year-old Maria Burton Carson, the mother of two of Elizabeth’s 10 grandchildren.
And before anyone was even willing to talk about AIDS Elizabeth Taylor created one of the first and most important organizations for AIDS research and funding. Through the American Foundation for AIDS Research and now the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Elizabeth Taylor has raised nearly $300 million for AIDS research.
She'd been diagnosed with congestive heart failure and osteoporosis. She broke her back five times, and survived a brain tumor operation, skin cancer, and two life-threatening bouts with pneumonia. And she did it all in the public eye.
When I met Elizabeth Taylor more than a decade ago I told her that she was the definition of the word "star." She didn't disagree with me. She knew who she was and what she was all about. She knew her role.
It was a role she was destined to play from childhood.
Recently confined to a wheelchair and then hospitalized, Elizabeth Taylor was keenly aware of her own mortality. She faced her own demons, bid adieu to dozens of friends and lovers, and even begged forgiveness from those she may have hurt along the way. Through it all, she endured like a the bright shining star that she was.
A few years ago the woman who proved that diamonds are a gal’s best friend celebrated her own diamond jubilee. As someone who mourns the demise of real stars and genuine, bigger-than-life people I salute Elizabeth Taylor in death just as I longingly loved and intensely admired her in life.,
Today, it's as if the North Star was suddenly extinguished.
The Last Star has left us forever.
RIP: Elizabeth Taylor.

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