Actress, jewellery lover, advocate
Hi, I'm Kat!
What I am most passionate about is to inspire you to see that your life is your own and biggest masterpiece.
Victor Cazalet had a tremendous influence and kinda got Elizabeth Taylor into Hollywood, which I find SO intriguing. So, who was Victor Cazalet.
He was part of the so-called “glamour boys”, nicknamed by prime minister Neville Chamberlain. The glamour boys were a group of homosexual British Members of Parliament in the 1930s and also amongst the first to warn about Hitler. He came from a wealthy family and Queen Victoria was not only a frequent guest at their French estate, but also Victor’s godmother. He was an influential and successful politician and was friends with Churchill and Eden and even godfather to Mary Churchill, Churchill’s daughter.
His friendships with the Taylor and Liz Taylor has the following background: Liz father moved his family to London to run a fine art gallery and Victor Cazalet, interested in the fine arts befriended them. They all were Christian Scientists and spend many a weekend together at Cazalets summer estate, where Liz Taylor learned riding and even got a horse of her own, Betty. He became her godfather and would be the one person Liz called for when sick. He would be one of the greatest influences of her life. When he felt the war approaching, he sent the Taylors back to America as did Joseph P Kennedy senior apparently. They settled in Los Angeles.
Cazalet wrote to his friend Hedda Hopper, who was an influential Hollywood journalist to introduce the Taylors. Hopper endorsed the new gallery of Liz Taylor father in Beverly Hills and soon clients from the movie industry gathered there. Through a client connection made through this, Liz Taylor got contract offers as an actress both from Universal Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer. They chose Universal – and this is how the rise of the star that Liz Taylor would become began.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST
SUBSCRIBE TO THE PODCAST
First steps in Hollywood
She only had one movie made with Universal because the casting director didn’t like her – she had too sophisticated a face and did not fit into the child star mould that was hyped such as Shirley Temple or Judy Garland. Her contract was terminated.
She tried with MGM in 1942 and got a role in Lassie Come Home, which resulted in a seven year contract. Her most exciting role would be National Velvet, where she was cast based on her English accent and her excellent riding skills. The production company had been looking for a girl like her for many years. They actually waited for her to grow a little more to be able to pull off the role. During this time, she perfected her riding and got braces to correct her teeth. Fortunately, Liz and her parents refused to have her hair dyed, her eyebrows corrected or her name changed. When National Velvet was released, it was a huge success and catapulted the beautiful young Liz into immediate stardom. For Liz Taylor that meant the end of her childhood as she was now an MGM star and MGM started to control every aspect of her life. She made commercially successful movies, transitioned to teen roles and finally to more mature roles when she turned 19 in 1950.
Her big breakthrough came with Father of the Bride – during the publicity campaign for the movie, then 18-year old Taylor married hotel chain heir Conrad Hilton Jr. and MGM picked up the check for the lavish ceremony. Her subsequent movies were big successes and “A place in the sun” established her as a dramatic actress.
Although she was a megastar already at MGM, she was casts for an MGM B-Movie as a little punishment for divorcing Hilton after only 8 months, which caused a bit of a scandal. Apparently he was a heavy drinker and abusive. But after that with Ivanhoe she started another string of really successful movies.
Her real stardom started with the 1950s, when American cinema was facing TV as a real rival and the movies and roles got more demanding and of higher quality. “Giants” opposite Rock Hudson and James Dean became her breakthrough as a star.
Cat on a hot tin roof probably is one of the most successful and noted and celebrated movies of Liz Taylor – and I personally love it – but the backstory is equally juicy. Just two weeks into filming her third husband Mike Todd died in a plane crash and she had to continue with the movie and basically became Maggie … and in post-production started an affair with Eddie Fisher, then-husband of Debbie Reynolds who were the original American Sweethearts. So, Liz image changed from successful star and widow to homewrecker within a short timespan. MGM used that to its advantage and put her on the movie poster in a white slip dress – so much PR know-how right? Butterfield 8 followed with the studio’s strategy to use her sex appeal.
And what would Liz Taylor be without Cleopatra? It made Taylor more famous than anything before that – but mostly because it nearly ruined Fox, the studio producing it – because it was the most expensive movie made until then with costly costumes, long breaks due to Taylor’s ill health and the extramarital affair she conducted with co-star Richard Burton. Subsequently, they made several movies together, that basically mirrored their own lives and led to Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf? Her best work as an actress that got her another Academy award and made her the star that we know. But the films afterwards could not reach that height of success and slowly, the parts died out. So, she got involved in her husbands political campaigns and took fewer roles.
During her stay in Washington, as a politician’s wife, Liz Taylor got depressed, gained weight and developed addictions to several substances. Soon, they split. After dating several men, she met her last husband at the Betty Ford Center, construction worker Larry Fortensky. They were only married for five years but stayed friends until her death in 2011.
Taylor was an avid advocate for HIV/AIDS when her friend Rock Hudson revealed that we was dying from the disease. She spent time, effort and money on the cause, setting up the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation that would help expand AIDS aids into other countries as well.
She also was an active supporter of Jewish and Zionist causes and even converted to Judaism because as she stated “I feel as if I have been a Jew all my life.”
Fun Facts & Learnings
- She wanted to play the leading part in What a way to go!, the role of which went to Shirley MacLaine instead and I really would not be able to picture Taylor in it.
- She earned more money with her 11 perfumes than throughout her whole acting career
- She loved jewels and was once regarded as owning the most important private jewellery collection in America. Her most important possession was the Krupp diamond that was renamed into the Elizabeth Taylor diamond.
- She had founded a jewellery company, House of Taylor, in collaboration with model Kathy Ireland and Jack and Monty Abramov.
- Howard Hughes offered her parents a six figure sum to marry her when she was still a teenager
- She was one of the last stars of the Hollywood studio system and Hollywood cinema and the first viral celebrity with the rising of paparazzis and chasing the jet-set life of the rich and famous. Taylor and Burton set the tone for how celebrities were chased and portrayed – impacting influencers until today.
- She had frail health, scoliosis, a broken back from the filming of National Velvet and a near-fatal bout of pneumonia. She was addicted to alcohol as well as pain killers and tranquillisers and was the first celebrity to openly admit herself to a clinic for treatment. She was a heavy smoker until her pneumonia.
- She had trouble with her weight starting with her marriage to Senator Warner and even published a book.
- Her eyes were blue, to the extent of appearing violet, and were rimmed by dark double eyelashes caused by a genetic mutation.
- She was brought up very puritanically, which led her to believe that marriage and love are one and the same, which probably explains her strings of marriages. Implemented beliefs are hard to overcome.
- Our teen years are the most forming years we can have. We develop our individuality, we develop who we are. As Liz Taylor herself claims that childhood ended early when MGM started controlling her life, she was deprived of the years of trying things, of finding out who she was, of what she wanted. So, I guess, she acted that out in her private life.
- I admire her for her ferocity and her energy. Someone wrote about her that she was a pre-feminist woman, through which we can get a sense of that deep animalistic power that Delilah or Helena of Troy must have had. I think that really sums up who she was and what vibrations she gave off. These kind of personalities are really rare to find these days.
With all my love!