This farewell is illustrated with pictures from one of her most-derided films BUtterfield 8 (1960), because it all but demands a critical reappraisal. At the very least those of us who weren't alive during its run can only (correctly?) imagine that her work as testy callgirl "Gloria Wandrous" inspired many a drag queen, with its in-your-face vulgarity "Face it Mama, I was the slut of all time!", performative abandon and absurd beauty.
In every article you read about the movie queen BUtterfield 8 is called a "stinker" and her first Oscar win is deemed a panicky Academy decision since she was was gravely ill during the voting. Whether or not those now common-wisdom assumptions are true, it just reminds us that a witty one-liner — and Taylor herself knew from those – can stick. Did this particular performance's reputation ever recover from Shirley Maclaine's bitchslap when her Oscar bid for The Apartment failed?
"I lost to a tracheotomy."
So give any of her movies a spin this week. Raise a glass to Gloria, Martha, Maggie the Cat, Cleopatra, Velvet Brown, Angela Vickers and all the other characters that Elizabeth Taylor brought to such vivid unruly life.
A few more of her movie titles could describe the star as well as Giant, come to think of it: The VIPS qualifies for obvious reasons; Boom because wherever she went, fireworks; and A Place in the Sun. Who was more obviously lit by the heavens? Her film debut at age ten is erroneously titled, though. It was called There's One Born Every Minute. Oh but there isn't. And there never will be again.