The XX Factor

Farewell to Elizabeth Taylor, Fabulous Yet Utterly Real

It’s a cliché to say they sure don’t make movie stars like they used to, but the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, who died today at the age of 79 , is a reminder that the Hollywood glamour she embodied is a fleeting memory. The Oscar winning actress wasn’t just a true pro-no matter what was going on in her personal life, according to her biographers, she always showed up ready to work -but she was also a winning combination of fabulous but still vulnerable and relatable, which is why so many fans flocked to her. In the excellent book Furious Love , which chronicled the relationship between Taylor and her two-time husband Richard Burton, Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger wrote , “She was truly a man’s woman, and she could drink, belch and swear with the best of them. It was, for her, an important antidote to her staggering beauty and hothouse upbringing. It made her human. It kept her real.

Despite her beauty and her outsize success, Elizabeth Taylor’s storied love life-she was married eight times to seven different men-and openness with the tabloid press made her more compelling to the average Jane. Though she certainly lived a life most women could never attain (think living on yachts for months at a time with an entourage of servants while wearing jewels the size of your head), her willingness to make less-than-sensible choices in the pursuit of love were central to her enduring appeal. It’s almost poetic that Taylor died from heart troubles-it was also how she lived.

Photograph of Elizabeth Taylor by Getty Images.