Veteran diva-disher Taraborrelli, who has written about Cher, Madonna and Princess Grace, turns his pen on the silver screen starlet of the century.
Elizabeth Taylor, she of nine lives and eight marriages, was born to privilege in England. She had a stunning, powerful mother intent on making her lovely daughter a Hollywood sensation. In her turbulent life, as Taraborrelli chronicles, Taylor has been (take a deep breath): the horse-loving preteen of National Velvet; the child-bride of volatile heir Nicky Hilton; the tragic young widow of hot-shot director Mike Todd; the home-wrecking vixen of Hollywood’s most wholesome couple, Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds; one half of Liz and Dick, twice-married Tinseltown supercouple; political trophy wife and campaign-trail eye-candy; alcoholic pill popper and walking train wreck; AIDS activist and best friend to Michael Jackson; the bloated, bleach-blonde soon-to-be ex-wife of construction worker Larry Fortensky. With all this drama, Taylor’s life is a story that nearly tells itself, and Taraborelli veers from his usual catty criticism. After detailing yet another embarrassing episode or inexcusable deed, the author attempts to make excuses for his subject, consistently starting sentences with the phrase “to be fair.” Where has there ever been a place for “fair” in the provocatively offensive pages of an unauthorized biography? It is to the detriment of the book that Taraborelli seems to have a reverence and sympathy for Taylor, for it lacks the bitchy bite that makes celebrity journalism so, well, Schadenfreude-y. Still, the enchanting Elizabeth does not fail to fascinate, whether we pity or revile her. As the writer characterizes her, she is unable to distinguish between onscreen and offscreen realities, always performing, while feeling deeply.
Overly worshipful, but you’d have to be quite jaded to be bored by this chronicle of a miniseries life.