HOLLYWOOD

Elizabeth Taylor


By Tony Rizzo
What do stars talk about at parties? At a recent party where everybody was a star, I heard someone ask who is the biggest star in the world? Names were bandied about until Elizabeth Taylor’s name came up — that was it! She’s been the reigning Queen of the Screen for six decades. In l941, at the age of 9, she debuted in “There’s One Born Every Minute” at Universal Studios. The head of the studio felt she couldn’t sing, dance or act, and released her from her contract. Six months later she starred at MGM with Roddy McDowall in “Lassie Come Home.” A few small parts followed. Then came “National Velvet” (1944), and a superstar was born!

As a teenager, in New York City, I waited for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton outside their hotel and at the stage door where he was starring in “Hamlet.” Where the Burtons went, large crowds gathered. Years later, in Hollywood, the Burtons were staying in a bungalow at The Beverly Hills Hotel. I camped out, taking pictures every time they came to or from their bungalow. One night, as Liz was getting into her limo, I said, “You look extremely beautiful this evening, Mrs. Burton.” She pulled herself out, looked at me and said, “Why thank you. … Thank you so much!” She was the most beautiful woman in the world and nobody ever told her!

I later learned, from Burton’s secretary, that she was so touched she vowed to remember me. A few weeks later, Burton’s secretary called and told me to be at the side entrance of the Beverly Hills hotel at 2 p.m. Of course I was there. A limo came, and out stepped Liz and Dick. I was the only photographer there. I shot a few pictures, then Liz told Dick to take the dogs inside so she could pose all over the lawn of the hotel, just for me!

Years later, at Carol Burnett’s birthday party, I was shooting Carol and Liz with Tom Selleck between them. I said “Lordy, Tom … what bookends!” Liz, in a loud, excited voice shot back, “What a book!” Though she hasn’t made a film in years, Elizabeth Taylor’s star power is still the brightest light in Hollywood!
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Is Charlie Sheen ever going to grow up? He’s acting like a college kid on spring break, which is not far from his character on “Two and a Half Men.” When viewers get tired of his antics, as I am, will they tune out the show? With the kind of money he makes, and how he spends it, “Good Time Charlie” may hear “Goodbye Charlie!”

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(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.

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