Elizabeth Taylor - England's Other Elizabeth Omnibus


Elizabeth Taylor - England's Other Elizabeth

Profile of the British-born actress who went on to become one of Hollywood's most enduring stars and whose love affair with Richard Burton captured the public's imagination.


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Transcript


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TRIUMPHANT FANFARE

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It was a one-piece bathing suit made of something white.

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The water made it transparent. I told him I didn't want to swim in it.

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But he just grabbed me by the hand and dragged me into the water...

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all the way in... I came out looking...nude.

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You know, that fine mind of yours gets pretty repulsive at times.

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That's not what you told me on the train.

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Now you're going to throw that up to me?!

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You know, you can be pretty wonderful at times.

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Come on, partner.

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Why don't you kick off your spurs?

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I don't mind making a fool of myself over you.

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Well, I mind. I feel embarrassed for you.

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Feel embarrassed!

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But I can't live on this way!

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-You agreed to accept that condition...

-I know I did, but I can't! I can't.

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We'll think of something somehow. Whatever way we can.

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We'll have such wonderful times together, just the two of us.

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What is it?

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You make a very excellent cup of tea.

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Elizabeth Taylor made over 70 films and won two Oscars.

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But she's equally remembered for her seven marriages,

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her diamonds, her illnesses and her flamboyant lifestyle.

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Born in London, but raised in the old Hollywood studio system,

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the talented actress has sometimes been overlooked amongst the headlines.

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Her first seven years, spent in London, determined her career.

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Right, Martha, your recitation, please.

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I was born in London, 1932.

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And... Well, it was, sort of, it was in Hampstead,

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on a wonderful crescent between Hampstead Heath and Wildwood Road,

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so it was like being in the country.

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And I had my first horse.

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I learned to ride, in England, bareback.

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But I had to leave her in England when the war broke out.

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They were the happiest days of my childhood, because I rode

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and I went to ballet school - Madame Vakarney.

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And she put on a concert

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for the Royal Family every year.

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And I was chosen out of my class - I was three -

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to do the solo.

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And I did my little twinkle-toes and all that stuff.

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And my butterfly curtsey.

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And I received applause and the sound of applause hit my ears for the first time.

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And I was transfixed.

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-Would you like to act in America?

-And leave Pi and everyone here?

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-They might want Pi too.

-Might be fun for us to go and see me doing things in the pictures.

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Elizabeth's parents were advised to leave England to escape the war.

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They went to the USA, their homeland,

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and settled in Beverly Hills.

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Producer Sam Marks, on hearing about her English accent, auditioned her for the MGM film Lassie Come Home.

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'So I went up and I just got into it and talked to the dog.'

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She doesn't seem well, Grandfather.

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Poor Lassie.

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Poor Lassie.

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Poor girl.

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And I got the part.

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And we did my segment in two weeks.

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Close the gate, close the gate!

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Don't let her get out! Close it!

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You've let her go. She's let her go!

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She's going south, Grandfather. She's going towards Yorkshire!

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I believe you're right.

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Then they signed me up for 18 years.

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-Our daughter's famous!

-Famous.

-There's fortunes of money in this!

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I had a great imagination

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and I just slid into it.

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And it was like a piece of cake.

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But it was with her next film, National Velvet, in 1944,

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that she established herself as a major new star.

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She was a little girl - she was 11 years old -

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and I remember being dazzled by her extraordinary colouring -

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her violet eyes and her dark hair and the natural colour in her cheeks.

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She was the most glorious looking little girl I'd ever seen.

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-Strange, not dignified to be polite when you're in love.

-Velvet,

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you're too young to understand some things!

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'We were working in these incredible sets which were outdoor scenes built indoors.

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'It was on Stage 27 that MGM had an enormous stage and the whole thing was built.

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'The daylight was created and the heat was intense.

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'The physical aspects of making movies were pretty darned uncomfortable.

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'Her mother was always on the set,'

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because they hadn't been in this country very long and neither had I.

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So we sort of shared that.

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What's happened? Is somebody ill?

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It's Ted. They sent him away to live with his aunt in Lancaster.

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You mean you're snivelling for a boy? You brought me home for that?

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Velvet...

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'You can see the sensitivity in the performance.'

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It's not just that she's a beautiful girl or an effective child actress.

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Her performance is one of maturity and emotional depth.

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I think the writing was on the wall from the beginning with her.

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He's a gentle one. I'll just call him Pi.

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-Oh, you're a pretty one, Pi.

-You're a wizard, Velvet.

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-May I ride him?

-Ride this horse?

-Oh, please!

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As a young star, Elizabeth had to balance her career with the schooling a child of her age needed.

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As for education, on the set they would have a little cubby hole,

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and you would have your tutor.

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And the minimum that you could be in there was ten minutes.

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So you had to ram some facts in your mind

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then go out on the set, do your lines, come back,

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pick up where you'd left off,

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go out, slip back into character...

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It was not easy. I don't know why were we weren't all schizophrenics.

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Well, a lot of us were.

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I think her emotional intelligence is really high.

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I think she...somehow knew underneath that it was time

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to put aside childish things and become a teenage actress,

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and then an adult actress.

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When she emerged as a young, glamorous actress

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she made the transition effortlessly,

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because MGM supported her through those years.

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She could have been going through a difficult time, but you never saw it.

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Suddenly she emerged, still under contract,

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and they were ready and they had the stories.

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So she took off, just like a lovely bird.

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After a string of films as a child star,

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Elizabeth Taylor had physically outgrown juvenile parts.

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At 17, A Place In The Sun established her as an adult star.

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Wow.

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Hello.

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Hello.

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I see you had a misspent youth.

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I guess it was.

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Why all alone?

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'I loved acting, but I didn't take it seriously

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'until I worked with Montgomery Clift,

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'in A Place In The Sun.

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'It's one of my favourite films.'

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-Are you blue?

-I'm just fooling around.

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-Maybe, you'd like to play?

-No, I'll just watch you. Go ahead.

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I still would camp around on the set

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and drive everybody mad.

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I'd give them the giggles

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and be silly...and all that.

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But...when I saw Monty preparing...

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..I thought, "My God, it isn't all about just having fun."

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And I think that's when I first looked at him

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and saw...

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how involved he was.

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He could make himself shake,

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and he couldn't stop after the director said cut.

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He would SWEAT!

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Real sweat.

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I'll come down in the morning.

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I thought, "I've just been playing with toys."

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Clift was the beginning of what I call a certain, er...

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realistic purity in action... in acting. Then there came Brando...

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And Jimmy Dean was not an actor yet, he didn't have enough experience,

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but he had great instincts.

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Then I came along and contributed a bit, but the beginning was Clift.

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I used to take Monty in and say, "Monty...

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"don't do this to yourself."

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"You've got to release it after the scene."

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And, you know, I would hold him... I was only 16.

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I had my 17th birthday on the film.

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It was almost like sometimes I was older than he was.

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But watching his intensity I learned...

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..not to let it kill you.

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But that it wasn't a game.

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You had to feel it in your gut and your guts had to get in an uproar.

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They're a pair of beautiful people who can welcome the camera up close,

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and who can share their emotional intensity and passion

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very easily in front of the camera.

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So he, whatever his training was that gave him access

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to that kind of thing that he could use as a performance,

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she had the same access by some kind of natural instinct.

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In rehearsals...

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I have never cried. Why waste it?

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And I get involved too.

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Sometimes you just don't play around with your own emotions that way.

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You're stomach gets upset and it's very hard, sometimes, to stop.

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So I wait and then I get myself, somehow or other,

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I don't know how, I've never had an acting lesson.

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I think that Elizabeth is an instinctive actress.

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I think she...

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She was simply brought up around acting.

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Acting was everywhere in her young life, I would have thought.

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You do learn so much by watching, listening and viewing.

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We're all like sponges.

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First of all, you know you're perfectly safe on a movie set.

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You know the crew will take care of you, the lights will be fixed to camouflage the defects.

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You know the director - if you trust him, and they were usually good directors that she worked with -

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will protect you from being a real asshole.

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And you know if you're an actor that's in that A-list echelon...

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Um...

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That if you really surrender and get out of your own way,

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particularly in a close up,

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that the audience will see your soul.

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She knew that.

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I'll go on loving you...

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..for as long as I live.

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Love me for the time I have left.

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Then forget me.

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-ANGELA LANSBURY:

-'There was such energy coming out of him.

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'What was coming out of his eyes, his body?

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'It was, I imagine, like sitting next to an electric chair.'

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It seems like we always spend the best part of our time...

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just saying goodbye.

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'I think she was working with an actor that she was very fond of.'

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I think the chemistry between the two of them, in that instance, was really very real.

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It worked...unbelievably well.

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They had an unspoken, perhaps, understanding

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of the price of the gift of beauty

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that nature had given them.

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And when Mr Clift had that accident and had to have his jaw wired...

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..that was the beginning of his crumbling.

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Leaving my house, he had the worst accident...

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I've ever seen.

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And I was first on the scene.

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And...pulled his head off the dashboard

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and the steering wheel.

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I probably shouldn't have touched him,

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but his head was getting bigger and bigger.

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By this time it was almost level with his delicate shoulders.

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And he opened his eyes and they were bright red.

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So the blue of them looked even bluer.

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He looked like an alien.

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He tried to say something.

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I said, "What is it, my love?

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"What is it, baby?"

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SHE MUMBLES

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And finally I made out, "Could you pull my teeth out?"

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He had two front teeth going through his tongue...

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..which made it hard for him to speak.

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So...I pulled them out for him.

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The ambulance was 45 minutes late, it was a nightmare.

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I don't know why Elizabeth had long and good relationships with gay men.

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Some of them were brought into her life through work.

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She worked with James Dean, Montgomery Clift and Rock Hudson.

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Men whom, we know now, were gay.

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She's a very loyal friend. She is 100% with you.

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She loved them.

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Rock and Jimmy didn't like each other.

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I was forever trying to intervene and get them to be friends.

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'We each had a house, like in a triangle

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'in this little town in Texas,

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'where we did most of the filming.

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'It was like everybody was sort of going in this triangle,

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'but those two were trying to avoid each other.'

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You always did look pretty.

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Not so pretty now.

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Wait a minute! Wait!

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You're tetchy, Bick.

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Tetchy as an old cook.

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Bick, you should have shot that fella a long time ago, now he's too rich to kill.

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In Giant, we see her acting very well with two totally different types of actor.

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One is Rock Hudson, one is James Dean.

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Hudson coming more, as she does, from the Hollywood school

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of movie-star-trained performer to become a star and have a persona,

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and James Dean more the method actor.

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And she adjusts herself and her performance very well to both styles

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and yet, manages to keep her own character together in a coherent way.

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I think that's quite remarkable.

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Mr Benedict's riata is one of the largest of them all.

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Oh, really?

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Well, just how large is that?

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Around a half a million.

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595,000 acres to be exact.

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I'd call that quite a parcel.

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How many acres did you say, Mr Benedict?

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He said 595,000 acres, Momma,

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and you should see the greedy look on your face.

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When are you going to get married?

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Don't you need someone to help you?

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When I get some time to look around, I'll go back east.

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So, have you got any good-looking sisters

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that might be interested in some poor people?

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Money isn't all, you know, Jett.

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Not when you got it!

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'When you see Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean in a scene together, drinking tea,

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'what you see is a woman raised in the studio system with an erratic young actor.'

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When you say "other people" what do you mean?

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You see how skilled she is at holding her own with him,

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and how skilled she is at creating the kind of subtext that he has been trained to create.

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But your situation is so different, you're a working man.

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That's something I'm going to fix.

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'There was an intensity you felt coming out of him.'

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He'd come over to my house, sometimes at night time,

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and we'd sit and talk until three in the morning - that youth!

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Then we'd be on the set, like at seven.

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He would reveal to me...

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..things that you only reveal to a very good friend.

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Wouldn't you love to know!

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But, before the film was completed James Dean was killed in a car crash.

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He was 24

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and Giant was only his third film.

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On some level, I think she...

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had a really exquisite sense of compassion

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for people who thought they were misfits.

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That didn't mean they were, but if she thought they felt it, she would be there for them.

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I don't know if she felt like a misfit, being so beautiful.

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It's possible to be so beautiful and talented and feel like a misfit.

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Lean on me, baby.

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You've got a nice smell about you.

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-Was your bath water cool?

-No.

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I know something that'll make you feel cool and fresh.

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Alcohol rub.

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Cologne.

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No thanks - we'd smell alike, like a couple of cats in the heat.

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'The minute the camera goes on, something happens in me.

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'Then I start to pull the stops.'

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But when it's rehearsal, my mind knows that this isn't the real thing.

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Some directors and actors, like Paul Newman...

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He evidently went to Richard Brooks and said,

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"Richard, I mean, is this it?

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"Is this all she's going to give?"

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Richard said, "It's OK, Paul, you wait."

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Maybe I got rid of Skipper...

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Skipper went out anyway.

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I didn't get rid of him, at all.

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I think the first take is the most honest, the most spontaneous.

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You do things that just come to your head and nobody can stop you because you're filming.

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If they don't like it, you do it again.

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But you get a sense of adventure, you get a rush of...

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being that person, and being true to that person.

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What THEY would do, not what you would do. What THEY would do.

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Isn't it an awful joke, honey?

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I lost you anyway.

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In 1957, after marriages to Nicky Hilton and English actor Michael Wilding,

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Elizabeth married the producer of Around The World In 80 Days, Mike Todd.

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He influenced her life more than any man before.

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Mike Todd was a steamrolling entrepreneur.

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He could talk you into anything.

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He was funny and rakish.

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He was...unbelievably adventurous.

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He totally fell in love with Elizabeth.

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-BASINGER:

-Mike Todd was a force of liberation.

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She had been dominated by her mother.

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She had been dominated by MGM.

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This man just said, "Hey, let's go."

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He took her out of that, out into a world of her own.

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Even though he perhaps tried to control and dominate her,

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he gave her a sense of freedom and an exciting whirlwind of a life.

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When a beautiful young girl marries a rich, older man, there's always cynicism.

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Liz, you once said you had the mind of a child and a woman's body.

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That was when I was 15.

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Since you've been married to Mr Todd, do you feel you've matured?

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I hope so, otherwise I'd be slightly retarded, wouldn't I?

0:26:110:26:16

-MIKE TODD:

-As some of you know,

0:26:160:26:19

I'm married to a girl a few years my junior. In fact, she's a few years my junior's junior.

0:26:190:26:26

During filming of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Elizabeth and Mike Todd were supposed to fly to New York,

0:26:260:26:32

where he was to receive an award, but she fell ill.

0:26:320:26:37

I had pneumonia and a temperature of 103.

0:26:390:26:44

And, of course...the doctors said I couldn't fly.

0:26:440:26:50

They had to shoot around me.

0:26:500:26:53

Er...

0:26:530:26:55

They were giving me antibiotics, everything.

0:26:550:26:59

A week went by, and still my temperature wouldn't budge.

0:26:590:27:05

And he said, "I'm going to have to go, love. It's tomorrow.

0:27:080:27:13

"We're going to have to refuel about three times. I'll be up all night."

0:27:130:27:20

And we said goodbye five times.

0:27:200:27:23

He'd go downstairs...

0:27:230:27:26

and then he'd come back upstairs and embrace me.

0:27:260:27:31

And he'd say goodbye again.

0:27:310:27:34

He did that five times.

0:27:340:27:37

And the next morning...

0:27:370:27:41

..the door opened at six o'clock in the morning.

0:27:430:27:48

My secretary and doctor walked into the room.

0:27:480:27:52

And I just screamed, "He's not!"

0:27:520:27:56

But he was.

0:28:000:28:03

He was dead.

0:28:030:28:06

The man who had meant so much to Elizabeth Taylor was dead after only 414 days of marriage.

0:28:080:28:16

I went to see her a few hours after we got word that Michael had died

0:28:160:28:22

in the plane crash.

0:28:220:28:24

She was drinking orange juice and vodka,

0:28:240:28:29

and very upset with God.

0:28:290:28:33

"How do you explain that? Why wasn't I on the plane? Why didn't I die too? Why did he have to go?"

0:28:330:28:40

She raged at God.

0:28:400:28:44

Despite her grief, Elizabeth had to honour her contract

0:28:440:28:48

and return to the set of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

0:28:480:28:52

They gave me two weeks off...

0:28:520:28:56

..because I'd developed a terrible stutter.

0:28:580:29:02

When I spoke in a southern accent,

0:29:020:29:05

I could get rid of it.

0:29:050:29:08

And after two weeks staying with my brother and sister-in-law, I went back to work.

0:29:110:29:18

It was supposed to have been my last film.

0:29:180:29:23

Ah...

0:29:250:29:27

And they said, "No, we have another film for you."

0:29:270:29:32

I said, "No, you shook hands with Mike. It was a gentleman's agreement."

0:29:320:29:39

They said, "But Mike is dead, so you have to do this other film."

0:29:390:29:43

I finished Cat.

0:29:450:29:49

I did Butterfield 8 with a gun at my temple.

0:29:490:29:55

I didn't speak to the director

0:29:550:29:57

during the whole thing - he was a method director.

0:29:570:30:02

Everything was, "Refer to this, refer to that".

0:30:020:30:07

And...I ended up winning an Oscar for it.

0:30:070:30:12

This year there were many magnificent performances by actresses.

0:30:410:30:45

Envelope, please.

0:30:450:30:47

-Elizabeth Taylor.

-WILD CHEERING

0:30:520:30:55

APPLAUSE CONTINUES

0:31:090:31:13

I don't really know how to express my gratitude...

0:31:170:31:22

for this and for everything.

0:31:220:31:25

I guess all I can do is say thank you.

0:31:250:31:30

Thank you with all my heart.

0:31:300:31:33

It was more than ironic, it was a large hoot.

0:31:410:31:45

When I'd seen the film in the screening room,

0:31:450:31:50

um... Can I swear on this?

0:31:500:31:54

I wrote in lipstick like Gloria did on the mirror...

0:31:540:31:59

.."Piece of shit".

0:32:010:32:05

Excuse me.

0:32:050:32:07

Alexandria at Pinewood...

0:32:110:32:13

Cleopatra began filming in 1960.

0:32:130:32:17

Due to bad weather and Elizabeth's bad health, filming was abandoned.

0:32:170:32:22

The next year, production was relocated to Italy.

0:32:220:32:26

It took over two-and-a-half years to make,

0:32:260:32:29

and was famous not only for being the most expensive movie ever made,

0:32:290:32:34

but for Elizabeth's 1 million fee.

0:32:340:32:38

Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra,

0:32:480:32:51

siren of the Nile.

0:32:510:32:54

I was the first person to break the barrier.

0:32:540:33:00

Now I'm not even a footnote,

0:33:000:33:03

um...

0:33:030:33:04

with these salaries of 20 million.

0:33:040:33:07

She didn't want to do Cleopatra. That's why she asked for 1 million.

0:33:070:33:12

She thought they'd turn her down. Joan Collins wanted to do Cleopatra.

0:33:120:33:17

Elizabeth - I don't think she cared.

0:33:170:33:19

If the public generally believes, no matter what historians tell us,

0:33:190:33:24

that Cleopatra was the most beautiful woman ever,

0:33:240:33:28

you have to cast the person everyone thinks is the most beautiful woman.

0:33:280:33:33

So that would be Elizabeth Taylor at that time.

0:33:330:33:36

She told me about Cleopatra coming into Rome.

0:34:020:34:06

She has a fear of heights.

0:34:060:34:08

She says, "I'm sitting on this thing about 40 in the air.

0:34:080:34:11

"Richard's close, he knows I'm afraid of falling."

0:34:110:34:13

Richard Burton, noted for his respected theatrical background

0:34:300:34:35

was to become a prominent figure in Elizabeth's life.

0:34:350:34:39

Richard Burton as Mark Anthony,

0:34:390:34:41

a pawn in the arms of this woman.

0:34:410:34:44

I'd known him since I was 19.

0:34:440:34:48

I used to say, "I'm not going to be another notch on his belt!"

0:34:480:34:54

And the first day that we worked together,

0:34:540:34:59

he was suffering from a hangover - surprise!

0:34:590:35:03

He was looking so vulnerable

0:35:080:35:11

in his little Roman dress!

0:35:110:35:15

And his hands were all shaky.

0:35:150:35:18

He looked such a mess.

0:35:180:35:21

He was drinking a cup of coffee, with his hand going like that.

0:35:210:35:27

I said, "Would you like me to help you?"

0:35:270:35:31

So I held the cup to his lips.

0:35:310:35:34

Our eyes locked

0:35:340:35:37

and he drank the whole cup,

0:35:370:35:41

and we just kept looking at each other.

0:35:410:35:45

She had fallen in love with Richard, and I was asking her about it.

0:35:460:35:52

She was sitting drinking Champagne.

0:35:520:35:55

I think she thought that I disapproved of her going from one man to the other.

0:35:550:36:02

She lifted the glass of Champagne

0:36:020:36:05

and she looked straight into my eyes.

0:36:050:36:09

Her eyes welled up with tears. She said, "Richard's taught me how..."

0:36:090:36:15

The tears spilled over.

0:36:150:36:18

And she put the glass here so that the tear would fall into the Champagne, "..how to love."

0:36:180:36:25

I started to cry.

0:36:250:36:28

I thought, she loves this man, whatever I've heard about him.

0:36:280:36:33

She described it to me so poetically, so I would approve.

0:36:330:36:39

-Anthony, how will I live?

-Same as I.

0:36:390:36:44

One breath upon the other.

0:36:440:36:47

Each bringing us one breath... closer.

0:36:470:36:52

You take so much of me with you so far.

0:36:520:36:56

Remember, remember - they'll want you to forget. Please...

0:36:560:37:01

Forget? No.

0:37:010:37:03

I can never be more far away from you than...

0:37:030:37:07

Than this.

0:37:070:37:10

The studio system hushed up everyone's affairs, always.

0:37:190:37:24

The way it is today with the tabloids, it wasn't like that when I was growing up.

0:37:240:37:31

Everyone acted as if everyone was going home to bed to their proper mate.

0:37:310:37:38

So when these rumours began, it was one of the first breakthroughs

0:37:380:37:42

of that kind of celebrity journalism.

0:37:420:37:46

Reporting their private, secret, naughty lives.

0:37:460:37:51

And everybody was talking about this.

0:37:510:37:54

They tried to have true love under the microscope of publicity, which can become almost impossible.

0:37:540:38:02

You don't have a chance to be too intimate too often

0:38:020:38:06

if there's paparazzi watching every move.

0:38:060:38:10

All the myths and stories about you which are not true at all.

0:38:100:38:15

You can't move in your private life, almost. You can't move.

0:38:150:38:20

Being with him,

0:38:200:38:23

I think he made everybody want to do their best.

0:38:230:38:28

I did a scene with her one day - I've forgotten the film -

0:38:280:38:34

and I said, "She doesn't do anything. What's she doing?"

0:38:340:38:39

The friend said, "Go and see her on the rushes." When I did, she was doing everything.

0:38:390:38:45

He very sweetly said that I taught him

0:38:450:38:50

how to be a movie actor.

0:38:500:38:53

He taught me to be a better actress.

0:38:560:39:00

She's one of the greatest screen actors.

0:39:000:39:04

-Is that a threat, George?

-It's a threat, Martha.

0:39:040:39:07

-You're going to get it, baby.

-I'll rip you to pieces.

0:39:070:39:11

You're not man enough. You haven't the guts.

0:39:110:39:15

-Total war?

-Total!

0:39:150:39:18

Only three years after Cleopatra, Elizabeth recruited theatre director Mike Nichols

0:39:230:39:30

to direct his first movie -

0:39:300:39:33

Edward Albee's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

0:39:330:39:37

She was prepared to dress down, grey her hair and look like hell.

0:39:370:39:43

That's the mark of an actress who wants to stand up and be counted.

0:39:430:39:48

You don't do those things unless you have the confidence

0:39:480:39:54

to carry it off, and that took a lot of confidence.

0:39:540:39:58

What a dump.

0:39:580:40:01

Hey, what's that from?

0:40:010:40:04

What a dump.

0:40:040:40:06

I had to put on 20 pounds, which made me very happy.

0:40:060:40:11

Um... I wore prosthetics under my eyes, under my chin.

0:40:110:40:17

I had my boobs pressed down.

0:40:170:40:21

I wore padding around my waist.

0:40:210:40:25

And I just generally, you know... made my mouth over the line of my own mouth.

0:40:250:40:32

And...

0:40:320:40:34

lowered my voice.

0:40:340:40:37

And, um...

0:40:370:40:40

generally looked like a slob.

0:40:400:40:43

-It's really a very sad story.

-Is it?

0:40:430:40:48

Oh, it would make you weep.

0:40:480:40:51

In the roadside cafe,

0:40:510:40:55

the dancing with the big boobs and the hips...

0:40:550:41:00

She was just ready to...

0:41:000:41:04

do it to make him jealous.

0:41:040:41:07

-You have ugly talents, Martha.

-Is that so?

0:41:070:41:12

Don't encourage her.

0:41:120:41:13

-Encourage me.

-Go on.

-I warned you, don't encourage her!

0:41:130:41:17

He warned you...don't encourage me.

0:41:170:41:20

'Her dramatic ability, we always knew.'

0:41:200:41:23

But that scene with the booze and the defiance

0:41:230:41:29

of her own beauty.

0:41:290:41:31

I mean, she really let herself be ugly and trampy and bloated and drunk.

0:41:310:41:39

But, Daddy! I mean, but, sir, this isn't a novel at all!

0:41:390:41:44

-You will not say this.

-Keep away from me.

0:41:440:41:48

This isn't a novel. This is the truth. This really happened to me.

0:41:480:41:53

'I think the average person doesn't think about how difficult it is

0:41:530:41:58

'to give a really explosive and emotional performance in film

0:41:580:42:04

'because you stop in the middle of the scene and do it over again.

0:42:040:42:10

'You have to stop for the cut, reshoot for the reverse angle shots for the other actor.

0:42:100:42:16

'Your emotion is constantly taken away from you.'

0:42:160:42:20

And the kind of physical, mental and emotional control it takes

0:42:200:42:25

to give a raw, angry performance like the one Elizabeth Taylor gives in Virginia Woolf

0:42:250:42:32

is exceedingly difficult.

0:42:320:42:34

You're working and you put on that...working coat.

0:42:340:42:39

And that never became clearer to me than when we were doing Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

0:42:410:42:49

Because on the set,

0:42:490:42:53

we would scream and blood would drip

0:42:530:42:58

and brains would spill.

0:42:580:43:01

And we'd get home and play with the kids, go to bed and make love,

0:43:010:43:07

then get around to studying our lines for the next day.

0:43:070:43:12

The most difficult part of all was Elizabeth's.

0:43:120:43:19

She quite rightly dominated the film and won an Oscar - he said bitterly!

0:43:190:43:26

Getting angrier, until he watched for a couple of years

0:43:260:43:30

and started thinking maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all!

0:43:300:43:33

Maybe Georgie-boy didn't have the stuff - didn't have it in him!

0:43:330:43:39

And I didn't, he said equally bitterly!

0:43:390:43:44

The other day, I saw about the last fourth of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

0:43:440:43:52

I was so compelled by Richard.

0:43:520:43:56

And why he didn't get an Oscar makes me so angry.

0:43:560:44:03

He was so brilliant.

0:44:050:44:08

But it was Elizabeth who won the Oscar - her second.

0:44:120:44:17

Yet perhaps her greatest challenge was yet to come,

0:44:170:44:21

taking a different form from the roles she'd played before.

0:44:210:44:26

In Hollywood, show-business stars,

0:44:400:44:42

shocked at the revelation that Rock Hudson has AIDS,

0:44:420:44:45

have joined forces to raise money for research into the disease.

0:44:450:44:48

Ever since Rock Hudson crossed his own version of the River Styx last month

0:44:480:44:54

and went public with his AIDS sickness,

0:44:540:44:56

there has been a significant new focus on a disease

0:44:560:44:59

that threatens to become an epidemic.

0:44:590:45:01

I was involved with AIDS

0:45:010:45:06

long before I knew Rock had AIDS.

0:45:060:45:09

In the early years of AIDS,

0:45:090:45:12

the public homophobia, the dislike of people who are gay

0:45:120:45:18

was so intense that it infuriated Elizabeth and hurt her. She was indignant.

0:45:180:45:25

Everybody was talking about it,

0:45:250:45:27

but like...this.

0:45:270:45:31

And nobody was doing anything about it.

0:45:310:45:34

Including myself.

0:45:350:45:37

And then I got really angry.

0:45:390:45:41

Rock Hudson is in his private suite in this Los Angeles hospital,

0:45:410:45:47

suffering from a disease

0:45:470:45:48

which has particularly afflicted the homosexual community.

0:45:480:45:53

I got in touch with Rock's doctor, before I got in touch with Rock.

0:46:000:46:06

And I said, you know, "Does Rock have AIDS?"

0:46:080:46:13

And he said "yes".

0:46:130:46:16

Then I asked him all about it.

0:46:160:46:19

Rock had no chances.

0:46:190:46:22

People were telling me not to become involved,

0:46:250:46:29

I received death threats.

0:46:290:46:31

And I was getting angrier and angrier.

0:46:310:46:35

And I thought...

0:46:350:46:38

"I have to do something about it." And I put myself out there.

0:46:380:46:44

All we can do, at this point...

0:46:440:46:47

..is help our friends who have AIDS.

0:46:490:46:52

'Rock's estate sent a cheque'

0:46:520:46:56

for a quarter of a million dollars, which started us off.

0:46:560:47:01

Then I found a brilliant woman in New York.

0:47:010:47:06

She found out we were trying to do that she was trying to do -

0:47:060:47:11

Dr Mathilde Krim - so we joined forces

0:47:110:47:14

and came up with the name AMFAR for research.

0:47:140:47:22

And, um, I think we've raised about 160 million.

0:47:220:47:27

When one meets someone like Elizabeth for the first time, who is really Hollywood royalty -

0:47:270:47:34

maybe the last one we have -

0:47:340:47:37

one, er...goes with thoughts of perhaps, er...

0:47:370:47:42

she may not be with the cause as much as I would like.

0:47:420:47:47

She may be more window-dressing than anything else.

0:47:470:47:51

That feeling was dispelled instantly.

0:47:510:47:54

She was obviously very sincere.

0:47:540:47:57

As I travelled around the country and visited hospices...

0:47:570:48:03

Because I would do my perfume tour and then anonymously go to visit a hospital,

0:48:030:48:10

without photographers or anybody else knowing.

0:48:100:48:15

I asked the patients what they wanted,

0:48:150:48:19

what THEY needed.

0:48:190:48:22

And they said,

0:48:220:48:25

"We just want somebody to put their arms around us.

0:48:250:48:30

"We're not contagious."

0:48:300:48:33

Elizabeth Taylor is a passionate person,

0:48:330:48:36

and when she feels, or SINCE she feels so strongly about AIDS,

0:48:360:48:43

and about defending her friends,

0:48:430:48:45

she is very passionate about that. That is, I think over recent years,

0:48:450:48:51

her big passion.

0:48:510:48:54

And she will never give an inch on this.

0:48:540:48:57

Wanting to give direct help to those affected by HIV and AIDS,

0:48:570:49:02

Elizabeth set up the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

0:49:020:49:06

It is as a result of this tireless campaigning

0:49:060:49:09

and in recognition of her body of work as an actress

0:49:090:49:12

that she's recently been made a Dame of the British Empire.

0:49:120:49:15

-ANGELA LANSBURY:

-She's earned it.

0:49:150:49:17

I'm delighted for her. It's a lovely thing, that recognition... by the country of her birth,

0:49:170:49:24

which is interesting. She's lived here for years, but never became a citizen.

0:49:240:49:29

She's always remained English.

0:49:290:49:32

"Sir Rodney" sounds better than "Dame Elizabeth".

0:49:320:49:35

Or Sir Tony. Here comes Sir Rodney. That's got royalty!

0:49:350:49:40

Whatever they get, they deserve.

0:49:400:49:43

I'm jealous. I'd like to be Sir Rodney. "Sir Rodney's car is coming."

0:49:430:49:49

"Sir Rodney's getting out. Sir Rodney fell on his face."

0:49:490:49:53

Ladies and gentlemen - Mrs Micos Cassadine.

0:49:550:50:01

Over the last 20 years, Elizabeth's attempts to pick up her film career have had mixed results.

0:50:010:50:08

But she's determined to return to the screen.

0:50:080:50:11

I have seen General Hospital and the university.

0:50:110:50:15

And I approve as my husband would have approved.

0:50:150:50:20

Micos Cassadine had a deep and abiding love...

0:50:200:50:24

-I said, "Cassadine!"

-OTHER ACTORS: That's right!

0:50:240:50:28

Oh, shit!

0:50:280:50:30

I startled myself!

0:50:360:50:38

Sorry, Bob. I'm not used to acting(!)

0:50:380:50:42

I just would like to do something to see first of all if I can, not at their expense.

0:50:420:50:49

I think I still can.

0:50:490:50:52

I want to see Elizabeth Taylor -

0:50:520:50:55

knowing, as we all do, this extraordinary arc of her life.

0:50:550:51:00

Her suffering and her overcoming of suffering,

0:51:000:51:04

and her humour, and her beauty, and her children and her jewels, and her men and her paintings,

0:51:040:51:11

and her...food -

0:51:110:51:13

I would like to see ANYTHING that Elizabeth would do.

0:51:130:51:18

I think they're afraid of me.

0:51:180:51:21

I mean...

0:51:210:51:23

I can't think why!

0:51:230:51:25

I've only broken my back three times in the last two years.

0:51:250:51:30

We have a great script! It's called "These Old Broads".

0:51:320:51:36

Carrie Fisher wrote it for me, for Debbie, for Betty Bacall or Julie Andrews, and Elizabeth.

0:51:360:51:43

It is the greatest part she'll ever play and it's in bed!

0:51:430:51:48

She doesn't have to get up early. She can stay there! And she doesn't have to stay long.

0:51:480:51:54

Let's just get this thing over with.

0:51:540:51:57

I assume you and Wesley have discussed some preliminary figures?

0:51:570:52:02

But I wanted to show you a number for each of these ladies

0:52:020:52:09

that I think is... closer to the mark.

0:52:090:52:13

Eeeh...

0:52:200:52:21

OK.

0:52:270:52:28

Ha!

0:52:320:52:33

Ladies, will you excuse me a minute?

0:52:370:52:41

Come!

0:52:470:52:48

-Hmm.

-Hmm.

-Hmm.

0:52:510:52:55

She is as famous today as she ever was.

0:52:550:52:59

That's the level of her celebrity. That is what is unique about her.

0:52:590:53:04

She transcends her own work. We don't need her work!

0:53:040:53:09

We just need her.

0:53:090:53:12

That's really the mark of the most remarkable movie star.

0:53:120:53:18

The last of the great royal movie stars of the Hollywood studio system -

0:53:180:53:23

Elizabeth Taylor.

0:53:230:53:25

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:53:550:53:58

Profile drawn from Elizabeth Taylor's visit to Britain in 2000, during which she received her damehood from the Queen. Hollywood's last great star talks for the first time in years about her career, her life and the challenges of the future.

From her early days as a child star in Lassie Come Home and National Velvet to becoming the century's biggest star of all - in Cleopatra - her life, her loves and her work have all been lived to an intensity no other star can match.

Joined by Shirley MacLaine, Rod Steiger and Angela Lansbury, Taylor remembers the glory days of working with Richard Burton, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, James Dean and Paul Newman, how filming never stopped regardless of what life threw at her, the pain and pleasure of two Oscars - one for a film she can hardly bear to remember - and, not least, the feelings she has for Britain, where she was born and how it was her English accent that launched her on the way to stardom at the very beginning.


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