Mr. Wow Blog
Mr. wOw at Auction – But His Feelings Can Not Be Bought
12:00 am | December 15, 2011

Author: Mr. Wow | Category: Point of View | Comments: 60

Brought to you by Elizabeth Taylor — the Christie’s auction

“Okay, but where’s the red Halston from the 1976 Oscars?”

That was but one of Mr. wOw’s many questions when he attended the final night of the Christie’s exhibition of Elizabeth Taylor’s gew-gaws and get-ups.

This was quite a different experience than the Monroe exhibit/auction back in 2000. Marilyn — Mr. wOw’s most cherished star — had but one piece of real jewelry — her diamond wedding band from Joe DiMaggio. The clothes, with the exception of the infamous Jean Louis “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” gown, one beautiful green sequined Norell, and her pristine Pucci slacks, blouses and dresses, were in tatters. she had no great art. The most interesting and impressive part of the Monroe collection was her extensive, well-used library.

Miss Taylor’s auctioned estate did not include books. Well, when the hell she did have time to read?! (Even in her final years, Elizabeth would be more inclined to watch a “Law & Order” marathon than read e.e. cummings.)

Miss Taylor’s haul at Christie’s was as zaftig as the lady herself. Mr. wOw attended the event with several pals, two of whom — Bill and Diane — have been fans of Madame for decades and decades … and decades.

The three of us were whisked back to the good old days of Miss Taylor sweeping in and out limos, striding across ballrooms, battling her way regally through mobs of fans, wiggling her fingers through the glass of her car windows. (This was a characteristic gesture. She didn’t wave, she wiggled.) And we — not one us under fifty-eight — had to admit to some emotion at seeing our girl’s public life laid out be to purchased.

My friend Diane was a little depressed. But she had grown up truly believing in the magic and fantasy of the movies — that the stars were really as beautiful as they appeared on-screen and that movie-making was fun, rather than the sometimes grueling, almost always tedious work it really is. She’s had a hard time maturing. The inevitable mortality of Miss Taylor — who once represented the epitome of excitement, the ultimate escape for an unhappy child — has been difficult for Diane to accept.

But of course, as monumental as the auction was, we were more interested in what wasn’t included. Yeah, I know — no mere mortal could have saved every single thing she ever wore. But until Taylor finally died, none of us was sure she was a “mere mortal.” Her health issues and physical decline were one thing. Dying? We were from Missouri on that.

But we weren’t really, truly sad. How could you be sad looking at a neck to floor feather coat? Or a yellow mico-mini? Or that crazy outfit she wore in “Boom!” Minus, alas, the giant head-piece. All those wacky, inappropriate late 1960’s ensembles we were treated to every month in Modern Screen and Motion Picture and Photoplay.

And yet, all that largesse didn’t soothe the rabid fan. As I opened above, where was that strapless red Halston, the first gown he designed for Elizabeth? In the bicentennial year of ’76, ET appeared onstage on Oscar night, bosoms bouncing, bare arms jiggling just a bit, and in that posh pseudo-Brit accent she acquired after Burton, led the audience in singing “America the Beautiful.” It was clear Miss T. was unfamiliar with the lyrics.

Halston then became her favorite designer, creating dozens upon dozens of gowns, evening pajamas, and but of course, as she plumped up, those caftans in red, yellow, blue, purple, green and a zebra-striped number. (She wore that one to the opening night of Liza Minnelli’s “The Act” in 1978. The crush around her was so frenzied that intermission stretched from 15 to 35 minutes. La Liz’s ovation was greater than that for Liza.)

Yet I can’t recall many Halstons at Christie’s. (One red number, from “Night of a Hundred Stars.”) There were plenty from his successor, Michael Vollbrecht, whose work for her was not flattering. But if certain clothes were meant for a tall slim woman to wear, you can be sure Miss T. ignored good taste and her own rather odd proportions. That’s why we loved her! (A great pal of Elizabeth’s once said, “She has taste up her ass. If she was low-key she’d leave Grace Kelly in the dust!”)

I missed her hot-pants, too. Oh, those hot-pants. I recall she had a pair in white lace, and several more in various shades of blue denim. As nothing was ever low enough or short enough, Miss Taylor would roll up the short-shorts, giving the paparazzi and fans a better look at her shapely, if not exactly willowy gams.

I was also kind of hoping they’d saved her innumerable bikinis. Miss Taylor loved her teeny swimsuits. It rarely mattered what size she happened to be. The smaller the bikini, the happier she was. There was also an amazing one-piece she wore in 1966, during the filming of “Taming of the Shrew” in Italy. This was no simple tank suit. It was boldly striped, cut to her waist and open on both sides down to her hip. A transparent black net kept everything from falling out. A photo of Elizabeth strolling the beach with Richard ran on the cover of Modern Screen. The headline read: “Is Liz Eating and Eating and EATING her Heart Out for Burton?” I practically fainted at the newsstand when I saw it. (A few years later, friends had to sedate me with vodka after Liz appeared on the cover of Look magazine, wearing the world’s most expensive fur coat, thrown over a hot pink bikini. I kept saying — in between gulps — “She did this just for me, just for me!” I was a kid. Her craziness mattered a lot. )

Of course, Elizabeth’s auction has been a classy thing. Bathing suits might have seemed too intimate. Monroe’s auction was scattered with such items as her lingerie — bras, panties, waist-cinchers. It was pretty sad. (Though there was nothing sad about the millions that auction pulled in — not that it could compare to Elizabeth’s bounty, which by this writing might exceed $200 million!)

And it was a lot of fun looking at the jewelry, reminiscing — “Oh, God, remember when we first saw her in that? …. remember when she wore it with that gorgeous dress … remember when she wore it with that terrible dress … remember when it fell off?!! (This led to recalling the tale of her falling on her ass, while dancing with John Warner at Regine’s nightclub in Manhattan. They were dating. She was stoned. She wore a peach-colored Halston and those fabulous yellow diamond earrings. With Warner’s assistance, she righted herself quickly and danced on. For hours! He was not naive about Miss T’s habits — though he was stunned at her instant weight gain, seconds after they announced their engagement.)

My friend Bill started chasing after Elizabeth back in 1964, during the run of Burton’s “Hamlet” on Broadway. He’d been possessed by her for several years prior. However he did it — sleeping pills in his parents’ coffee? — Bill managed to stay out late in the big city to wait to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth. He would not be denied the opportunity to see his idol, now that she was so nearby. (Though not that nearby. Bill lived in Queens!) Bill was an excellent photographer, too. He snapped and snapped and snapped. And as he said, “Listen, if you had to see Elizabeth Taylor in person, that was the time to see her. She was perfect, then. The face, the body, the clothes. People would literally break into tears when they saw her. She was that beautiful. It was her ‘lady’ period, when she was trying to convince the world she wasn’t really a whore. Little suits and hats and evening gowns that were never too low or too tight. Later, she went back to all the crazy stuff. She didn’t care if they called her a whore. So what? Her movies made so much money…”

Bill took photos for years. One of my favorites is a snap from 1975. Miss T. had arrived in New York for Richard’s performance in “Equus” on Broadway. Burton had met her plane at Kennedy airport. Swathed in fur, she embraced him lustily, and said, “Want to see my bags?” Then she removed her shades to reveal a shockingly un-slept face.

Two nights later, me and Bill and hundreds of others gathered outside the Lombardy Hotel to see ET leave, to greet Richard at the theater. From a distance, as she emerged from the elevators, we all went “Ooooohhhh!” She looked great. But the closer she came, the less great she looked. The hair was gigantic, the dress awful, the amethyst jewels jarring. This was clearly a woman in agony. Bill took one shot, as she sat in the car, staring out at the clamor she’d known since the age of twelve. The window was slightly flecked from an earlier rainshower. Pain, beauty, resignation. She and Burton separated for the second and final time, two days later.

So it was like that, at Christie’s — so many memories, so many years. Leaping in and out taxis … waiting for hours in the extreme heat and cold … with Richard, with Henry Wynberg … with Iranian ambassadors … John Warner … George Hamilton … Dennis Stein … Victor Luna … Malcolm Forbes … Larry Forentsky … from Manhattan to Disneyland to Venice. Always gracious, never condescending (I saw her lose her temper only once, in thirty years) … always enjoying the clamor, relishing her role as The Most Famous Woman On Earth.

But, Mr. wOw had one real verklempt moment. Wandering alone, I came upon a case full of Elizabeth’s various semi-precious bangles. There it was. A weird necklace made out of signal flags representing … every, country in the world. I was stunned. Elizabeth was wearing this thing when I saw her for the very first time, on July 2nd, 1973. It was thrown over a tight yellow tee-shirt. Big ivory earrings, the Krupp diamond and other glitter were also involved. But the flag necklace stood out. It was a quiet visit, and only a few paparazzi were present.

I’d never seen her wear the flag necklace again — a minor bauble, for sure. Yet it was presented in lovely fashion, behind glass, at Christie’s. I was immediately transported back to that day. How impressed and surprised I was that she actually was that beautiful. Much slimmer than I’d expected. And much shorter, too!

I didn’t attempt to speak to her. Not even the typical line — “Oh, you are so beautiful!” (She never took any of that seriously, anyway. Usually, as I observed later, she’d laugh and roll her eyes.) But when she passed right in front of me, I smiled. I guess it was a silly, goofy “I- can’t- believe-I’m- seeing- you” grin. She looked right at me, and gave me back the biggest movie-star smile you ever saw. Relaxed, charming, assured, re-assured. (She needed re-assurance. Two days later she would return to New York, separated from Richard. I would witness for the first time, the terrible cyclone of her fame.)

The charm of that little moment remains. In so many ways that I can’t explain, Elizabeth was responsible for my “career” — whatever the hell that has been. And it was fun. She was fun. I never had something better to do, I was never too tired, I was never depressed when the call came, or the invite arrived – “Elizabeth’s in town. Come see her.”

I won’t say “rest in peace” because that is the opposite of how she lived.

So — girl, party on! Heaven’s hotter for your presence.

  • rick gould

    Oh, Mr. W–
    It is bittersweet, isn’t it?
    On the one hand, I am oddly proud for ET, in this age of disposable celebrities, showing one last time, how people would clamor and pay for her presence/presents!
    And on the other, there’s the finality of it. But Taylor said many times this was how she wanted it.

    Loved Liz Smith’s coverage, but was hoping you’d write your own personal take. Thank you. You were a lucky, lucky man to have witnessed her star.

    Whenever I hear this line from Pink Floyd, I think of Elizabeth Taylor:
    “Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun.
    Shine on, you crazy diamond.”

    1:07 am | December 15, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Rick…

      I know nothing about Pink Floyd, but that is one great lyric, and so appropriate for our girl!

      I was lucky and it was so much fun!

      11:29 am | December 15, 2011
      • Jerry

        You don’t anything about Pink Floyd? Pink Floyd wrote a song about Obamas sheep (I’m guessing you’re one), and didn’t even know it.

        Harmlessly passing your time in the grassland away;
        Only dimly aware of a certain unease in the air.
        You better watch out,
        There may be dogs about
        I’ve looked over Jordan, and I have seen
        Things are not what they seem.

        What do you get for pretending the danger’s not real.
        Meek and obedient you follow the leader
        Down well trodden corridors into the valley of steel.
        What a surprise!
        A look of terminal shock in your eyes.
        Now things are really what they seem.
        No, this is no bad dream.

        You should study them instead of that pansy ass bs you always talk about.

        3:34 am | December 19, 2011
        • Baby Snooks

          Some of us prefer the pansy ass bs over the vitriole of people like you…

          9:29 am | December 19, 2011
          • sandra b

            right on snooks!

            4:08 pm | December 19, 2011
          • Count Snarkula

            Baby Snooks:  Seconded!  And hearted.

            12:51 pm | December 20, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Dear Jerry…

          First of all Merry Christmas.  But…why do you even read my pansy ass bs?  I ask you honestly.  Just to insult me?  That seems pointless.   I suppose you missed a lot of the more current events/politcal postings I’ve contributed.  Nothing brilliant–and no doubt the opposite of your own leanings–but not about movie stars, anyway.

          I understand being ignored.  I understand somebody saying, “I don’t agree with you.”   But, as Blanche Du Bois said, “Deliberate cruelty is not forgiveable.”   Sorry, I had to slip back into my pansy ass bullshit.

          Enjoy the season. 

          12:41 pm | December 21, 2011
  • LandofLove

    As always, a great story Mr. wOw. You really made me understand why Miss Taylor meant so much to you.

    11:04 am | December 15, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear LandofLove…

      Well, for a boy like me–when I was just a boy–it was easy to be fascinated by Miss T.  But it took me  awhile.  Alive, active, sometimes sloppy, always kinda crazy, usually a bit plump, making bizaare movies–I resisted at first.  But in the end, as you see, she got me. 

      11:34 am | December 15, 2011
      • rick gould

        That’s what I came to appreciate about ET, what you saw was what you got. For a star of Taylor’s stature, surprisingly little pretense.

        Also, I’ve never seen the photo with this column…is it from “Return Engagement”? It looks like it, which makes me want to see that underrated Hallmark movie again.

        Have you seen the lovely videos of Elizabeth on the Christie’s site? There’s one with video of her when SHE WAS BIDDING on the Duchess of Windsor’s Welsh pin. Poolside, no makeup, white swimsuit, at age 55. It is great to see her natural, trim and very girlish and excited to GET that pin!

        12:43 pm | December 15, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Dear Rick…

          Indeed it is from “Return Engagement”  That was an oddly touching little movie, with ET surprisingly plausible as a college professor!  

          I have not seen the Christie’s vids.  Will now.  Thanks!

          1:04 pm | December 15, 2011
  • Daniel Sugar

    Mr. W.,

    I watched the auction online. At first I felt a bit sad seeing all the things ET loved going to who knows who, but after a while I thought, she had a lot of fun so who cares where the stuff goes now that she’s departed. After that I started to enjoy the auction and I thought about the portion of the proceeds that would go to fight AIDS and I hoped ET’s spirit was somewhere watching it all and laughing and laughing.


    12:56 pm | December 15, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Dr. Sugar…

      Believe me, she’s having a ball.  Probably with a drink in her hand–honey, they let you drink in my version of heaven!–and shrieking, “My God, $20,000 for that piece of crap?  I wore it once!”

      1:07 pm | December 15, 2011
      • Baby Snooks

        Like the gossip columnist said, the Wife of Bath after she collided with a Brink’s truck. Several Brink’s trucks. Almost half of the $116 million was from five Bulgari pieces and the Krupp diamond and of course La Peregrina, the real surprise of the auction, and the Taj Mahal diamond. Who says jewelry is not a good investment?  Shortly after she died “those in the know” estimated it would all bring in around $150 million.  Of course no one knew how much the all was. And some had forgotten about some of the pieces she rarely wore.  With the art, it will probably all bring in around $250 million. Depending on the art market.  Sentimentality has nothing to do with jewelry, the major pieces anyway, or art.  But sentimentality just the same is probably worth about $50 million.  One thing’s for sure. If you’re looking for a good investment, buy Bulgari and buy jewelry with a past.  And not your own. Or suggest it to the boyfriends, lovers, and husbands. As for “it all” it seems she had a lot of boyfriends as well as lovers and husbands.  What I find amazing is that for someone who never learned how to read one she certainly had a lot of watches!

        6:43 pm | December 17, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Dear Baby…you are well, honey?

          The watches, yes!  Even more amazing, she usually wore a watch!   Never less than a hour late, inevitably.

          12:49 am | December 18, 2011
          • Baby Snooks

            Yes I am well. Just busy this past week. And just suffering a little “sticker shock.”  She’s in heaven. Enjoying a Jack Daniels and laughing about it all but and telling Burton he should have gone to Bulgari more. He definitely should have bought more emeralds. A necklace, earrings, a brooch/pendant and a ring. $20 million. Who’d have thought?  All auctions have their surprises. That pearl was the surprise. The appraisals were obviously a little off. Even flawed I thought the Krupp diamond would go for $10 million. $8.8 million is closer to the $10 million than to the $2-3 million appraisal. And those charm bracelets. And that “flag necklace.” Even though the necklace was Bulgari. Well, someone saw someone coming as they say.  I suspect that is where “sentiment” came into play. And the “monkey necklace” along with the earrings. Christie’s should know it was the di Portanova necklace and earrings. Designed by Ricky di Portanova. Not Portanova. I can’t believe Elizabeth Taylor wore them. I couldn’t believe Sandra di Portanova wore them. Rivals that horrid creation of Aristotle Onassis’ that had the moon on earring and a spaceship as I recall on the another. I think Jackie O went “Oh” and realized he had a lot of money but no taste.  We’ll see how much the art brings in. Less the buyers premiums and Christie’s commission, and the IRS, I suspect the great-great-great-great grandchildren will never have to worry about the rent.

            Haven’t time to “google” the million or so stories from a million years ago but someone swears one of the rings was auctioned off once for AIDS. So maybe the buyer gave it back to her? She bought it back herself?  A mystery. Lots of mysteries. One of which is why Liz Smith didn’t ask where all the furs are. Another mystery. She had some fabulous furs. So maybe they didn’t want to upset PETA as Liz Smith suggested. The real mystery is how much the Cartier-Burton diamond would have brought in at this point. That probably would have been the surprise of the auction.

            It will be interesting to see how much is actually donated to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Christie’s no doubt will make an announcement?

            8:08 am | December 18, 2011
  • Frannie

    Thanks Mr. Wow. Loved the look back.

    1:16 pm | December 15, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Frannie…

      Thank you.  Loved looking back!

      2:00 pm | December 15, 2011
  • LuckyLady n/a

    WOWOWOW and I thought I was a fan.  However, I am twenty years older than you and as far as clothing goes my memory goes back to the “pool table” dress she wore with Montgomery Clift in “A Place in the Sun”.  My girl friend and I must have seen that movie 5 times (at least).  The dress was always locked in my brain.  Finally, I dragged my mother (who was a a wonderful seamstress) to the theater to see the dress and demanded that I must have it for the Senior Prom.  She made the exact replica and I found the faux drop pearl earrings  Ms. Taylor wore with it.  I still have the earrings but have no idea what happened to the dress.  After that I literally could never get past that face, that face, that beautiful face.  I miss her.

    3:06 pm | December 15, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear LuckyLady…

      Ah, yes—the pool table dress.  “Being alone?  Being exclusive? Being blue?”  (Cut to giant closeup of ET’s ravishing 17 year-old face.  Yes–only 17 then.  The movie was held from release for almost two years.)

      You and millions of American teens  demanded that gown for the prom.  It was Taylor’s first big moment as a fashion-maker.  (Later, all the girls wanted that little poodle cut hairstyle, or the big bouffant, or the eyeliner.  And who didn’t covet that white skirt and blouse from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?”)

      Later on, nobody particularly wanted to wear mini-skirts the way she did, but—what the hell.  By then she was LIZ, and we loved the crazy way she got up.  Well, I did, anyway. 

      3:42 pm | December 15, 2011
      • rick gould

        ET was no Audrey Hepburn, for sure.
        Nor did she have any desire to be thin and tasteful!
        Yet, Liz created a lot of trends: A Place in the Sun and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, as you mentioned. Later, the Cleo look, the Artichoke ‘do.
        And I waited on lots of ladies in the 70s and 80s who still wore Liz eyemakeup and flowing caftans. In fact, I once told a lady with jet black hair, Cleo eyemakeup and a deep blue caftan that she reminded me of Liz. She beamed, and when she went to the ladies room, her husband told me I made her day! I got a big tip, too ; )

        That $600 program caught my eye, too!

        5:07 pm | December 15, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Dear Rick…

          I always imagined  someone tasteful in her entourage saying, “Oh, darling—too much, too short, less bosoms, less makeup.”

          And then she turns and says, “Really?  Shorter, lower, bigger, and much more  eye-shadow!”

          She was so wonderfully perverse.  She knew what what good taste was.  She simply  preferred not to have it. 

          8:25 pm | December 15, 2011
  • Paul Smith

    Did you beg borrow steal in order to buy a trinket, to make Ms. Taylor smile, to support the cause?  That was the bottom line.

    3:45 pm | December 15, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Paul…

      I bought the damn six-volume catalog, for $600.  That is part of the proceeds and that goes to the cause.   I certainly couldn’t have afforded even the least expensive of Miss T.’s trinkets.  I couldn’t afford the catalog, to be honest. 

      4:19 pm | December 15, 2011
      • rick gould

        Also, Christie’s says it is donating all profits from the catalogs to ET’s AIDS foundation.

        5:09 pm | December 15, 2011
      • Baby Snooks

        Well you and someone else who bought the catalogs didn’t notice the little Lalique fishes which were part of one of the lots that were auctioned on Friday night. I wouldn’t have paid $4,750 to get them back but it was nice to see them. Four of them. I thought there were three. I had three but maybe someone else bought her the blue one. Or Needless-Markup threw one in for the hell of it.  Or maybe it’s been so long I had forgotten there were four. 1989.  A million years ago. And apparently a million pieces of jewelry ago. Where did she keep it all? Maybe she had a Brink’s truck in the garage? A story behind those little fishes. In the book I will never write. 

        I do worry that people will now just remember her as the Wife of Bath who collided with several Brink’s trucks. Remember her for all the things she had. Instead of all the things she was. 

        11:48 pm | December 18, 2011
        • Count Snarkula

          Baby, I wanted to get them for you….but $4750?  Better a down payment on the Banana Plantation in CR, no?

          12:55 pm | December 20, 2011
          • Baby Snooks

            People tend to go a little nuts at auctions. Particularly over the “smalls” as they’re called. You of course did buy that little canary diamond? The Count Snarkula. I can name diamonds too, you know. Just watch. I’ll run into whoever bought it.  “Oh, that’s the Count Snarkula diamond.” 

            8:15 am | December 22, 2011
          • Mr. Wow

            Dear Baby…

            That canary diamond  wasn’t so little.  In fact, all the yellow stones were gorgeous and major. 

            If the Count got one, Brava!

            2:08 am | December 23, 2011
          • Baby Snooks

            The ring was for me. Something to wear around the banana plantation. I guess I’ll have to wait until they find a way to create big diamonds. So far they don’t seem to create anything larger than 5 carats. Nice, but, well, you know. Bigger is better.  They’re now turning “the remains” into “keepsake” diamonds. Which is probably what she should have done – had herself turned into a diamond. I bet that that would have set a world record at auction. And what a conversatioin piece.  “No dear, not the Elizabeth Taylor diamond. This IS Elizabeth Taylor.” 

            4:02 pm | December 23, 2011
  • Rho

    Thank you Mr. WoW.  I miss her too.

    5:00 pm | December 15, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Rho…

      But–as they say–thanks to the magic of the movies, she lives on.  And of course all the in-person stuff I experienced was so wacky, wild and wonderful. 

      What a woman.

      8:27 pm | December 15, 2011
  • Belinda Joy

    I was hoping you would be able to make it to the showing…..good for you.  Mr. Wow, you truly are one of the biggest fans of Elizabeth Taylor I have ever met (well sorta met, if you call exchanging messages online). I have never warmed toward her as you have. The only thing I remember about her more than anything are her eyes. She had the most beautiful eyes……..

    9:17 pm | December 15, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Belinda…

      I am more sentimentally attached to Marilyn.  But Elizabeth wowed me so much as a phenom, a secure, sometimes selfish force of nature, who took more than 50 years to really grow up.  Nothing tragic or fragile about her.  And…the hot pants.  Damn, she wore  some crazy shit. 

      The eyes? The face?  Much more impressive in person.  And she had incredible skin.  Even after all that baking in the sun. 

      11:17 pm | December 15, 2011
  • Cindy Marek

    This is probably an irrational/unfair expectation of Ms. Taylor, but I’ve been disappointed that she wasn’t more (openly) patriotic. I would have imagined her being openly supportive of troops, such as joining in the old Bob Hope venues (Korea/Vietnam). I’m 46, so not in *that* age group…but my mother’s a big fan of Liz Taylor. Was she more in tune with the UK, having been born there (to American parents)?

    11:00 am | December 17, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Cindy…

      Elizabeth did a lot of Bob Hope TV specials, including one onboard a ship for Navy troops, in 1986.

      But she wasn’t the “type” of star who was usually  asked to entertain the troops.  Despite her beauty, she was not known as a pin-up.  And she didn’t sing or dance.  By the time Viet Nam was raging, Miss Taylor was living her La Dolce Vita in Europe with Richard, all the children, pets, entourage, etc.   And making movie after movie.    Let’s face it, the troops were more interested in seeing Ann-Margret or Raquel Welch, anyway.    And the Korean War?–it was all about Monroe, who did travel over there to give the boys a boost. 

      Liz gave money to various causes and charities over the years and was personally very genereous to friends.  (As was Marilyn, who had much less $ to give!)    But it was only after ET sobered up and grew up a bit, that she found a cause to devote herself to–the fight against AIDS. 

      12:45 am | December 18, 2011
      • rick gould

        Well put, Mr. W…
        And someone recently put a clip of her bantering with Bob on the Navy Ship in ’86 and man, ET looks sensational!

        8:59 pm | December 18, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Dear Rick…

          That was the peak of her post-Betty Ford comeback. (The first rehab.)   When she sauntered across the deck, with her teeny waist and showing a great deal of leg…hey, I  was ready to join the Navy!

          11:15 pm | December 19, 2011
          • rick gould

            Mr. WoW-
            This is off-topic, but the next time you need a good chuckle, esp. over Hollywood icons, go to PunchyPlayers on YouTube. You will DIE laughing. Many of our idols are affectionately and brilliantly lampooned. Check it out. Seriously. Rick ; )

            12:52 am | December 20, 2011
          • Mr. Wow

            Dear Rick…

            I don’t know if it was PunchyPlayers but I did find something hysterical on Judy and Liza on YouTube earlier this year—selling oatmeal or something!  Crazy but brilliant. 

            11:19 am | December 20, 2011
          • rick gould

            Cream of Wheeeeee-at!
            Also: I Love Lucy GPS; Audrey Hepburn Airlines, Judy and Liza go grocery shopping with Ann Miller; and Mary Poppins screentests (Vivien Leigh, Bette Davis, Shirley Booth, Judy and more). I requested an Elizabeth Taylor edition…perhaps ET haunting her own auction ; )
            A delight reading…and responding…to your columns

            12:48 pm | December 20, 2011
    • Baby Snooks

      Actually she was more in tune with British tax laws as in a British citizen living in Switzerland paying very little in taxes which is why she renounced her American citizenship and became a British citizen. Then when she married John Warner she became an American citizen again. Now if you want to talk patriotism either she was patriotic or just blinded by love. She started paying a lot more in taxes.  It was probably a little of both. I think she wanted to “settle down” finally and really wanted to “settle down” here. Things didn’t work out in terms of the “settling down” but she also didn’t run off and renounce her American citizenship a second time. And believe me the IRS will be taking a nice chunk of the Christie’s auction.  And of all the rest. So in that sense given how easily she could have just moved to Switzerland at that point and probably could have become a Swiss citizen living somehwere else I would say there was some patriotism at work. Beneath the glitter she was Earth Mother. And very American. Her famly was from Kansas. And you can’t get much more American than that.

      12:12 pm | December 19, 2011
  • Count Snarkula

    Mr Wow!

    So glad you got to go to the auction.  I was scheduled to be in NYC that week and had planned to go, but then things went to hell in Las Vegas (well…continued to go to hell) and I had to go there instead.  Thanks so much for the report.  And btw…Night Watch just shipped to me from Amazon.  Bring on the hair ! ! !

    XOXO to all.  Except that Pink Floyd Sheep f*cker.

    12:58 pm | December 20, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Count…

      “Perhaps it was an optical illusion, Mrs. Wheeler?”

      “It was a dead body caused by a MURDERER!”

      Ah, “Night Watch.”  A delicious little latter-career treasure from our girl.   And, OMG–the hair!

      4:41 pm | December 20, 2011
  • Dan Patterson

    Mr. Wow,

    Thanks so much for this great article on Elizabeth Taylor and the auction. I can’t believe I’m so late getting to this, but I’m glad I didn’t miss it. I really appreciate your tribute to, and obvious love for, Miss Taylor. She inspired so many of us in ways she could not have imagined. The world was a richer, lovelier place for her being here and she will not be forgotten. Bless you!

    12:56 am | December 22, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Dan…

      This is the busy time of the year.  I’m surprised as many people noticed this as they did.  Pleased of course. 

      I did attend the memorial service in L.A. last month and I thought, “okay–it’s really over.”   But the auction/exhibit, though tons of fun, really brought it home–she is gone.   Her last 15 years were grueling—for her and for those who cared and had to watch her courageously continue a public life, when it would have been so much easier to retire while the image still bore a resemblance to the fabled “Liz.”  But she went on, even as long-time paparazzi would turn to me and say, “Oh, God–why can’t she be like Dietrich?  People don’t want to see her like this!”  

      I think her defiance in that area was one of the most impressive acts of her life.  Hobbling, on a cane, in a wheelchair, ravaged by illness ,she faced her physical ruin, and made us face it, too.   And on days when I’m looking every one of my almost 59-years, or have a bad complexion and I am worrying and fretting and wondering where that cute young man in the mirror has gone to, I think of Elizabeth. “The World’s Most Beautiful Woman”  showing the world that nothing lasts forever and it’s not so tragic when it does end.  That’s life. Grow up. Get on with it. 

      11:09 am | December 22, 2011
      • rick gould

        Mr. WoW-
        My sentiments exactly.
        When you think about previous glamour goddesses like Marlene, Ava, Lana, Joan, etc. who became reclusive when they no longer looked the star…and how lonely they were.

        As unreal as ET’s life was, she held her family and friends close, and faced the real world, no matter what her face looked like.

        11:05 pm | December 22, 2011
      • Baby Snooks

        She had a “Norma Desmond” period although it didn’t last long and suddenly there she was on Larry King. Part of it was she needed to promote her new jewelry venture but I suspect part of it was to tell everyone who kept “killing her off” to shove it.  Including I suspect the doctors.
        There was this one photo of her at Michael Jackson’s funeral that was one of those “Kodak Moments” when she managed to lift her head up and turn it in such a way that the photo captured that face that was stlll there despite all the ravages of the years.  Hauntingly, perhaps teasingly, so. She surrendered to no one. And to nothing. Including age.  

        4:43 pm | December 23, 2011
      • Baby Snooks

        You were at the memorial service and didn’t write a column about it? Timed too close to the auctions for some. Had the air of a marketing ploy than a memorial service. According to observers.Some of whom found themselves part of a parade rather than a party years before at Disneyland.  That I was actually invited to.  A mutual friend.  No one could believe someone had never been to Disneyland. I still haven’t been to Disneyland. The mutual friend fortunately told me before I left for Los Angeles that “hubby” was going as well. So I unpacked as they say. Otherwise, well, Miss Taylor would have had some extra fireworks for her birthday. I really should have written a book. I did drop little hints through the years about Disneyland. I always got these little looks.  Of course some of the people I got the looks from went to Disneyland for her. But wouldn’t take me. I guess I should have just gone by myself. Maybe the Count will take me on our way to Costa Rica…

        9:54 am | December 24, 2011
        • Mr. Wow

          Dear Baby…

          Who said I didn’t write a column about it?

           That’s another story. 

          Disneyland was one hell of an event.  You shoud have gone.  I got drunk and I  got  lost. 

          But she recovered, as Judy said in “A Star Is Born.” 

          12:49 am | December 28, 2011
  • Dan Patterson

    PS. I noticed with gratitude that TCM, in its annual “In Memoriam” video, gives Taylor pride of place in the lineup. The celebrities are presented in no recognizable order (neither death nor age) but the video retrospective saves the best for last – Elizabeth Taylor, the last great star.

    1:03 am | December 22, 2011
  • JCF4612


    11:20 pm | December 22, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear JCF…

      Yes, Fortensky indeed.  All that was lots of fun.  When she married him, he  was 39 and she was 59.  She looked 35.  The headlines screamed.   I did, at that point, think she was kinda supernatural. 

      (When I saw her in New York in ’91, pushing White Diamonds, people felll down in the street trying to get a look.  It was so wild.)

      12:33 am | December 23, 2011
      • Dan Patterson

        Recently, astronomers announced the discovery of a “diamond planet,” i.e., a planet whose core is a huge diamond. There is no doubt in my mind as to whom this newly discovered “gem” should be named after. In fact, the discovery of this planet shortly after Miss Taylor’s death makes me wonder if, just possibly…

        5:43 pm | December 23, 2011
        • Baby Snooks

          They’ve always known about these “diamond planets” but this was the first one they actually discovered. Black diamonds are possibly “remnants” of them. Brought to earth by meteorites millions of years ago. The “Black Rock” at Mecca is believed to be an enormous black diamond.  I suspect somewhere there is a lavendar diamond that hasn’t been discovered. That of course will be known as the Elizabeth Taylor diamond. Something someone didn’t think about when they renamed the Krupp diamond. Although as someone commented again the other day once the Krupp, always the Krupp.

          There is a service, I think they still exist, that allows you to name a star for someone. The money goes to NASA or something.  But I guess a planet would be more appropriate. Diamonds are forever. As is the memoery of a woman who did more for the diamond industry than any marketing campaign De Beers ever came up with. Maybe De Beers should return the favor and see to it the planet is named for her.

          10:16 am | December 24, 2011

    Dear Mr. Wow,

    Thanks so much for writing this. We have talked about La Liz before but rarely have i seen my feelings about her put into words as you have done. I loved her I guess like you did because through all of the pain, she never stopped trying to make her life as fun as a fishbowl could be.

    I saw her from the front row in “The Little Foxes” with my mom, and I was the frist one out of my seat cheering like mad when it was done. i was cheering because I had always known she was an actress as well as a movie star (not all are) and I was so proud of her for having the guts to prove it. She looked down at me and gave me the biggest smile and a dazzling slo-mo wink that was just for me. I had tickets for “Private Lives” but I never believed I would see it. How she could do light frothy Noel with the broken down great love of her life? I honored her passion, but was glad I didn’t see it.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1:44 pm | December 26, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Cynthia…

      Thank you.  I saw “Foxes” six times on Broadway, and saw her give six quite different performances, including one that was deadly serious (none of the rowdy fun she had injected into Regina) and mesmerizing.  The audience went totally berserk that night.  I think she  had some sort of emotional shock before the show–in fact, I know she did–and it affected her performance.  For the better.  Much later that evening, with hundreds of fans still outside the stage door, she appeared distraught, no make-up, not her usual self when she left the theater—she loved to dress up and give the fans another show.  Not that night.

      You should have gone to see “Private Lives.”  It was a LOT of fun.  I doubt it was quite what Mr. Coward had intended, but then again, neither was Tallulah Bankhead in the great revival of “Private Lives” in the 1950′s.   And–on Broadway, at least–ET looked divine in her blondish 30′style wig and a smart array of negligees, evening gowns and a very sleek skirt and blouse.  She wasn’t fat, no matter what the flesh-fearing critics said. 

      Wasn’t the smile and wink worth every dime you paid? 

      12:11 am | December 27, 2011
  • Dan Patterson

    Thanks again for the article and thanks to all of you for the comments. For ET fans, you might be interested in this audio clip I just discovered on YouTube. Ten minutes of PRIVATE LIVES (Act 1) with Taylor and Burton. They actually get some chemistry going, toward the end of the scene.

    2:42 pm | December 26, 2011
  • Hi Mr. Wow, missed your tree this year! Perhaps the dazzle of the auction was all the glitz needed for 2011? Hope your Christmas was bright and cheery, and a Happy New Year to you and B.

    4:21 am | December 27, 2011
    • Mr. Wow

      Dear Lila…

      A tree pic and some others (I hope) are coming soon!  

      Thanks for your good wishes!

      12:07 pm | December 27, 2011
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