How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood by William J Mann - review by Frank McLynn

Frank McLynn

Much Ado About Nothing

How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood


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I ought to declare a prejudice straightaway, for Elizabeth Taylor has always left me cold, and that celluloid image so many raved about seemed to me merely a portrait of sullen, boorish, peevish arrogance. In the 1950s she was the apotheosis of Hollywood as glamour, a fitting star for MGM and its high production values, but not a scrapper like Bette Davis or Barbara Stanwyck. She played the studio game, colluded with its press agents and publicity machine, virtually invented the paparazzi, and either initiated or perfected many of the tricks of the image-shaping game that are common currency today.

But beyond that, what? Unquestionably a beauty in her very young years, she was already becoming coarsened by her late twenties. Hollywood, which looks after its own, quite unjustifiably nominated her for Best Actress Oscars four years in a row: for Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin

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