Elizabeth Taylor died today. And I feel… a way about it. Not really devastated or anything. But more like… it’s the end of something. The end of an era. (I don’t like that phrase, it is cliché and kind of boring, but it fits.)
Like so many other things, they don’t make stars like they used to. Elizabeth Taylor was one of those stars with the untouchable glamour. There was a level of class that you could just see. You looked at her and knew that she was special. She was clearly beautiful, clearly talented, but there was something else about her. She had “legend” written all over her. When do you suppose the legend status got attributed to her? National Velvet? Butterfield 8? North & South? The Simpson’s? (Simpson’s, she did the voice of Maggie) So basically somewhere between National Velvet and The Simpson’s she became THE legendary, Dame Elizabeth Taylor.
I suppose the question is what makes a legend? Do you have to have been in the game (whatever that game is… sports, acting etc) for a certain amount of years? Do you have to have accomplished something extraordinary or special? What is considered special? Was she special because she was beautiful and talented? Was she extraordinary because she was a wife 8 times over? Was she special because she did time at Betty Ford? Was she an extraordinary she was a mother, grand-mother and great-grandmother? Was she special because of her commitment to AIDS? Perhaps one or two or all of those attributes? Perhaps in spite of them? I don’t know. I’m just asking.
I do think that there has to be a certain classic quality that a legend has to have. You can’t be a flash in the pan. Is it possible to gyrate your way into legend-hood? One can argue that Michael Jackson moon walked his way in.
Do you remember that song by Britney Spears? “Gimmie More”? The male voice in the song refers to Britney as legendary. Every time I hear that I sort of roll my eyes. Britney Spears…legendary? Notorious? Sure. Infamous? You betcha. Legendary? Not so much. Maybe in about 20 to 30 years and frankly I doubt it. As talented and beautiful as some of our leading actresses of today are, I just don’t know if we are creating legends. Scarlett Johansson doesn’t scream legendary to me.
Again, I wasn’t a rabid fan of Elizabeth Taylor, and will likely rarely (if ever) think of her or her films. However, her death after 69 years in the entertainment industry, did strike me significant.