Tag Archives: Romantic Adventures

The Many Loves of Elizabeth Taylor
By Sheri Warren Sankner

1. Taylor,_Elizabeth_posedWith her raven hair, ruby lips and trademark violet eyes, Dame Elizabeth Taylor was true Hollywood royalty, the last major star to come out of the golden age studios. Ranked #7 in the American Film Institute’s list of the 50 “Greatest American Screen Legends,” Liz Taylor captured hearts as a child actress and continued to enthrall audiences throughout her more than 50-year career. She appeared on over 1,000 magazine covers.

Taylor was born in London to American art dealers. She lived there until the age of seven, when the family relocated to Los Angeles in 1939. At a family friend’s urging the strikingly beautiful little girl took a screen test that impressed bigwigs at Universal Pictures enough to sign her. “There’s One Born Every Minute” was released in 1942 when she was 10. While the studio dropped her after one film, MGM soon picked her up.

Her first MGM production, “Lassie Come Home” (1943), was followed by “The White Cliffs of Dover” (1944) and “Jane Eyre” (1943). Then came her career-defining film: “National Velvet” (1944), in which she played Velvet Brown opposite Mickey Rooney. The box office smash made over $4 million, and more importantly, solidified her long-term relationship with MGM as its top child star. At 15, Taylor starred in 1947’s biggest box office hit, “Life with Father” with William Powell and Irene Dunne. She also co-starred in the hugely successful ensemble film “Little Women” in 1949.

2. ET with Montgomery CliftThe 1950s-1960s saw the beautiful star’s greatest, most lauded roles on the silver screen and her legendary scandal-ridden love life plastered in the tabloids. She co-starred in “A Place in the Sun” (1951) with friend Montgomery Clift, in box office hit “Ivanhoe (1952), and in this week’s MovieZoot Watchlist favorite “The Last Time I Saw Paris” (1954). In 1955, she appeared in the hit “Giant” with James Dean, who died that year without ever seeing the release of his greatest film. “Raintree County” (1957) with Montgomery Clift, who was seriously injured during the film with Taylor actually saving his life, brought her an Academy Award nomination for her portrayal of Southern belle Susanna Drake.

3. Cat on a Hot Tin RoofIn 1958, she starred as Maggie Pollitt in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which amassed rave critical reviews and another Academy Award best actress nomination. In 1959, she appeared in another mega-hit and received yet another Oscar nomination for “Suddenly, Last Summer,” though she lost for the third time. Taylor finally won the golden statue in 1960 for her performance of call girl Gloria Wandrous in “BUtterfield 8.”

4. Elizabeth_Taylor_1960Taylor’s personal life at the time, including her many affairs, marriages and divorces, was constant fodder for the gossip columnists. She married first husband, hotelier Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, in 1950 at 18 in a traditional, white satin gown made by Helen Rose, who designed Grace Kelly’s dress for her wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco. The marriage, characterized by physical abuse, lasted only about eight months. In early 1952, Taylor married second husband, actor Michael Wilding, the father of her first two children, Michael and Christopher, in a civil ceremony in London. They divorced in 1957.

5. Mike Todd and BabyTaylor’s wedding to third husband, producer Mike Todd was held in Acapulco, Mexico in February 1957. Todd, who was considered the first great love of her life, died in a plane crash in March 1958. He presented her with a 29-carat diamond ring, the first to add to Taylor’s world-renowned jewelry collection. They had one daughter, Elizabeth Frances “Liza” Todd. Not one to remain single for long, Taylor married fourth husband singer Eddie Fisher less than a year after Todd’s death in a synagogue in Las Vegas. Fisher married her 3½ hours after divorcing her good friend and former Matron of Honor at her Todd wedding, Debbie Reynolds. What a tangled web!

6. ET with Richard BurtonTaylor had a scandalous extramarital affair with the second love of her life, Welsh actor Richard Burton, while making the most expensive film at that time. “Cleopatra” earned Taylor a formidable $1 million paycheck. Burton became her fifth husband in 1964 while on this epic film that took many years to complete due to her struggle with a life-threatening illness.

7. Cleopatra with Richard BurtonIn 1966, she returned to the screen with Burton as the frumpy, sharp-tongued and hard-drinking Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” a performance that brought a second well-deserved Oscar win. The famous couple co-starred together again in “The Taming of the Shrew” in 1967. Nicknamed “Liz and Dick,” the jet-setting couple made 11 films together and shared a lavish lifestyle. Burton gave Taylor the famous 69-carat “Burton-Taylor” diamond. They divorced in 1974, but re-married in 1975. Their second marriage ended in 1976.

While her acting career began to wane, she continued to appear in films until the mid-1970s. By December 1976, Taylor had traded Hollywood for Washington, marrying sixth husband, John Warner, a Republican politician from Virginia. The semi-retired Taylor worked on his Senate campaign, but life as a politician’s wife in Washington, D.C. brought her little satisfaction and much boredom, loneliness and depression. Her weight bloomed and she became addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol. The couple divorced in 1982.

In the 1980s, Taylor acted on the stage and in several television films and series. She became the first celebrity to launch a perfume brand and was an early activist of HIV/AIDS, after the death of good friend Rock Hudson.

8. Liz TaylorAfter Warner, Taylor was engaged to Mexican lawyer Victor Luna and New York businessman Dennis Stein, though she never married either. She met seventh (and last) husband, construction worker Larry Fortensky, while they were both in rehab at the Betty Ford Center in 1988 and they married at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch on October 6, 1991. The wedding was a media circus with one photographer even parachuting into the ranch. Taylor garnered $1 million from People for the wedding pictures, which she used to launch the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Their marriage ended in divorce after five years.

9. Tabloid coverThroughout her life, this legend was constantly hounded with media attention. Taylor married eight times (seven different men), endured more than 40 operations and 100 hospitalizations, and led an excessive lifestyle, including accumulating one of the most expensive private jewelry collections in the world. After years of ill health, she died of congestive heart failure at the age of 79 in 2011.

Check out the feminine wiles of Elizabeth Taylor (with co-stars Van Johnson and Roger Moore) this week with MovieZoot.com’s “The Last Time I Saw Paris.”

Notice the surprising comparisons to Taylor’s real life and loves. Life can often imitate art.

Her Debut Film May Have Put Her on the Map, but “Wonder Woman” Made Her a Star
by John Francis

1. Bobbie Jo Poster“Wonder Woman” was one of the biggest box office and critical hits of 2017, catapulting star Gal Gadot into superstar status and blowing the capes off all the male-dominated superhero movies of the past year.

Why it took so long to reboot the franchise from its TV heyday of 1975-79 is anybody’s guess. Meanwhile, while many male DC and Marvel superheroes were getting their own crappy films (C’mon down Green Lantern and Ghost Rider!), Wonder Woman was languishing in rerun hell.

Even though it only lasted three seasons on ABC and CBS, “Wonder Woman” was faithful to the popular DC comic books that fans had been reading since it was created in 1941, and made Lynda Carter a star.

Carter, who was once voted “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World” by the International Academy of Beauty and the British Press Organization, made her film debut in 1976’s “Bobby Jo & The Outlaw,” which she appeared in after being in the pilot for “Wonder Woman.”

2. Lynda as Wonder Woman“Bobbi Jo,” directed by B-movie auteur Mark L. Lester (“Truck Stop Women,” “Roller Boogie” and “Commando”), had two things that made it stand out from other B-movie trash: Carter exposed her breasts for the first and only time in her career (except for being on a Playboy pinup in “Apocalypse Now”) and it starred a former evangelist preacher in the role as “The Outlaw,” Marjoe Gortner, who had been preaching since he was 4 years old.

Carter later disowned her participation in the movie, probably because of her nude scene and the extreme violence and to distance herself from the straight-laced, all-goodness heroine she played in “Wonder Woman,” to this day the one character she is most closely identified with.

Oddly enough, Carter appeared in only eight other films after “Bobbi Jo,” preferring to guest star on episodic TV and TV movies and spend time on her musical career (she’s released four albums so far).

Her best known roles outside of Wonder Woman include stints in “Sky High,” “Dukes of Hazzard” and two satirical “Super Trooper” films as Governor Jessman. Recently, she’s played the role of U.S. President Olivia Marsdin on The CW hit series “Supergirl.”

The storyline for “Bobbi Jo” goes something like this: A young country music wannabe named Bobbie Jo Baker takes off from her job as a carhop to join with a modern day Billy the Kid wannabe for an adventure in theft, homicide and mayhem.

3. Lynda and Marjoe Shooting While not all that well received when it first came out, “Bobbi Jo” has attained a somewhat cult status, primarily because of Carter’s celebrity status since “Wonder Woman” and for Gortner’s performance as the wild, Billy the Kid-style outlaw. Gortner never became the star he thought he should be, and was last seen producing celebrity charity golf tournaments.

But the movie has received some grudging praise in recent years as a decent example of B-movie exploitation fare from the 1970s.

“ ‘Bobbie Jo and The Outlaw’ efficiently mimics the greatest escapist trash produced by AIP or Roger Corman during the wild and woolly 1970s; only it’s not as consistently slick, and suffers from sloppy editing,” says coolasscinema.com. “There’s plentiful action, funny lines, beautiful women, bloody shootouts, ample nudity and subtextual content for a film whose narrative didn’t require any. A good chunk of the film’s success can be attributed to its great cast.”

“A fun ‘on the run’ movie, ‘Bobbie Jo And The Outlaw’ will live on in infamy for Carter’s nude scene but outside of that is fairly middle of the road stuff,” says DVDTalk.com. “Not terrible, not amazing, the film has its moments to be sure, and as a time killer you could do worse but it’s not particularly well written and relies too heavily on coincidence and cliché to work as well as it should have. Recommended for fans, a genuinely fun rental for the masses.”

And this from cinemaretro.com: “It may not be in the same league as ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ (1967), but it’s still an extremely enjoyable, well-directed, written and acted low-budget feature that definitely deserves to be seen. The stunning Lynda Carter gets to show a bit more range then she did as Wonder Woman and is extremely convincing as the hopeful and somewhat naïve Bobbi Jo.”

41st Annual Gracie Awards - Arrivals Carter, meanwhile is continuing her music career at age 66, and she is said to have been invited to appear in the upcoming sequel to “Wonder Woman” in an as-yet undetermined role. She has been effusive in her praise for the new film, its star Gadot and its director Patty Jenkins. And it’s obvious she still has a soft spot for a character she played more than 40 years ago.

“Many actresses or actors, they want to divorce themselves from a role because we are actors, we really aren’t the people that we play,” Carter told USA Today. “But I knew very early on that this character is much more than me certainly, and to try to divorce myself from the experiences that other people have of the character is silly.”

See Bobbie Jo and the Outlaw on MovieZoot.com.


Bogart in Italy in “BEAT THE DEVIL”
by Chris Hoey

Beat the Devil image 1Any young man looking to attract a romantic partner can tell you, “travel to another country — your accent will drive them wild.” Somehow, Humphrey Bogart and Gina Lollobrigida both capitalized on the exotic mystique that accompanies a commanding voice with a touch of something that’s difficult to pinpoint. Hailing from Manhattan, New York, it seems like it would be easy to nail down the origin of Bogie’s brilliant drawl, but the stories about his accent seem to outnumber the films he starred in.

In “Beat the Devil,” accents abound. This story is set in Italy, where Maria, played by Gina Lollobrigida, sounds at home, but John Huston cleverly makes sure the American audience understands with a handy little trick. In revealing the film’s first major plot point, Maria reads from a newspaper. Huston sets up a single shot of the newspaper she’s reading so the audience can read along. Maybe modern directors of reality TV can learn from the classics that you don’t always have to provide a subtitle for those who come from the deep bayou in Louisiana or the Jersey Shore.

Beat the Devil image 2Bogart, who seems at home in any locale, had an accent that commanded attention anywhere. Many stories about his trademark enunciation trace its origin not to his home, but to an injury to his upper lip. Many who met him referred to his speech pattern as having a lilt or a lisp. Maybe the mysterious leading man’s scar tissue is the source of all the attention.

Some stories recount an abusive father who gave young Humphrey a fat lip that never fully healed, but the most often repeated tale comes from Bogart’s days in the military. Apparently, Bogart was involved in transporting a prisoner who took advantage of an opportunity to smack his captor in the mouth with his handcuffs. Any assistance provided by the military doc may have made matters worse, leaving Bogart with significant scar tissue that paid dividends. You can just imagine a young beauty approaching Bogart in a two-bit gin joint and asking where his accent came from. “Experience, sweetheart. That’s where it’s from,” Bogart would reply. Maybe the best answer to the mystery accent is the one that accents the mysterious origin.

Bet the Devil image 3 It seems that Bogart’s accent wasn’t the only gem to emerge accidentally, when it comes to “Beat the Devil.” The film would be the last that John Huston and Bogart would do together. The collaboration that started with “The Maltese Falcon,” and also produced “The African Queen” would finish here with a Truman Capote script.

Beat the Devil image 4As Bogart was the main backer of the film, and had such trust in his colleague, Huston, Capote was given the freedom to do much of the writing as the film was being filmed — a situation that would scrap any production.

The resulting film, Beat the Devil is unexpected and intriguing — just like Bogart’s accent.