Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

This week an icon of the silver screen left us. Elizabeth Taylor appeared in some of the most compelling movies of the twentieth century, including Cleopatra, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Butterfield 8, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Suddenly, Last Summer. When most people think of her now they probably remember the multiple marriages that become fodder for stand-up comedy. That's unfortunate: she was a gifted actress, winning two Academy Awards for Best Actress, five Golden Globes, and the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award. She was also a pioneering AIDS activist, organizing and hosting the first AIDS fundraiser in 1984. If you're interested in learning more about her, the BBC has a fascinating article here on how she redefined celebrity. Here's the New York Times' tribute. For a more in-depth treatment, try How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood or Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century. But the best tribute you can pay to an actress is to watch her performances. Critics often differ vehemently on which of Taylor's roles are her best, but the same titles are often mentioned: Reflections in a Golden Eye, A Place in the Sun, Suddenly, Last Summer, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Butterfield 8. If you're in the mood for some costume drama, check out the films in which she co-starred with Richard Burton:  Cleopatra and The Taming of the Shrew.

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