Such sad news on this snowy day. Yes, we have about 5 inches of snow on the ground today, the sky is gray and there's a fine mist. A sad looking and feeling day all around.
Elizabeth Taylor has died. Once the most exquisitely beautiful woman in the world and a very fine actress, she had been struggling with her health in these later years. I woke up this morning turned on the computer and there was the awful (though not totally unexpected) news. With her continued health problems, I'm actually surprised she made it to 79, but so happy she did. She lived a good long life, I suppose. But it should have been longer. She sure as hell made the most of the time she had though - didn't she? Good for her. What more can anyone ask but that we make the most of the time we're allotted.
I have my own Elizabeth Taylor story to tell because I had the excellent good fortune of having met her many years ago when she was probably at the apex of her extraordinary beauty. A brief meeting, but for me, an indelible one.
In the early sixties I worked for a major magazine in the Fashion Department as assistant to the fashion editor. Unknown to me, the editor was friends with two young men who worked as Taylor's and her then husband Richard Burton's secretaries. One day I came into work and my boss said we were going over to the Plaza Hotel to meet some people and do some work. This was not unusual as my job and hers was one of gadding about NYC, choosing clothes and models, setting up photo shoots and that sort of thing. It was a fun job.
Anyway, we went over to the Plaza, to the Oak Room. On the way my boss told me who we were meeting AND that there was the slight chance we'd also get to meet Elizabeth Taylor. I tried to be cool but I nearly fell out of the taxi with excitement.
Unfortunately I had on a pant suit and women in pants were not then allowed in for lunch at the Oak Room. (Yes, it was THOSE days.) But eventually with a bit of pressure from Miss Taylor's secretary who had met us downstairs for a bite, I was allowed to slip in unobtrusively and covered my offending legs with the draped table cloth.
Shortly thereafter we went upstairs to a suite of rooms and I was shown a small office in which I was to help out with some fashion-related business for Miss Taylor. My boss left and went off to do magazine work but promised she'd be back soon. It was a little odd, but my job was to be flexible and so I was.
During that time I did phone work related to some fashions and accessories that Miss Taylor wanted - things she couldn't do on her own because if she went inside a store she'd be mobbed. If I'm remembering correctly this was shortly after CLEOPATRA had debuted in theaters. While I was in the office, the only people I dealt with were her two secretaries who could not have been nicer, though they were busy enough as well.
After a couple of hours I finished my 'work', my boss returned, and we were ushered by the secretaries down the hall and into a HUGE suite. As we walked in I saw a group of people and heard the magical voice of Richard Burton speaking. I almost dared not look. But I did. There was Elizabeth Taylor, standing (holding a drink I think) while a group of people sat around listening to Burton talking about something or other. She looked over at us from across the room, but made no motion or comment. She did check us out though and that made me smile.
My boss and I were speechless and stood there like two stricken turkeys awaiting their fate. Didn't know what to do. The secretaries were no help since they left us there alone. Oh yeah, we were supposed to walk further into that room and blend in. BLEND!! This was Liz Taylor and Richard Burton and their families - it looked like. And there we were, two dorks HANGING out at the Plaza with the rich and famous. My boss was feeling exactly as I was, I could tell. She was tall and much more glam than I. She was a fashion 'somebody' and, after all, she was friends with the secretaries. But it turned out she'd never met Taylor or Burton either.
So what did we do? We sneaked into the bathroom and stayed there. We were such boobs.
Anyway, we finally left the room and inched our way back into the main part of the suite. The secretaries came and told us everyone was leaving and that we would now get a chance to meet and greet. Gasp!
Well, long story short I hardly remember mumbling hello to Burton, unable really to meet his eyes. He was such an intimidating personality. That part of it is a blur now. I have a better memory of meeting Liz Taylor.
We had been escourted out into the Plaza's hallway where we were told to stand against the wall as the entourage passed by surrounded by bodyguards. One of the secretaries brought Miss Taylor over to meet us. (I kid you not!) She took my hand in hers (I'm 5'4", she was tiny.) and said how glad she was to have met me - ME!! She said she'd been looking forward to meeting me and how sorry we didn't have more time! She looked directly at me and I was flabbergasted knocked for a loop by her incredible beauty up close. But also flustered by her completely down to earth attitude - her 'niceness'. I was floored.
Later, when it was all over and I left the Plaza to go home to the Bronx. I walked on air. Silently, I gloried over everyone I saw in the streets of Manhattan that day. I HAD JUST MET ELIZABETH TAYLOR!!!! I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! Hey, I'm somebody! That's how she'd made me feel. In those few moments. She had that gift.
It was one of the most incredible moments of my life.
I am so saddened today, to read of this beautiful woman's passing. I hope she, as in the film I reviewed yesterday, is being judged fairly as she sails on that interim ship. I hope she's found her happy eternity. If these things exist at all.