Browsing bookshops, one would never imagine that Elizabeth Taylor's film career essentially ended a quarter century ago. Counting her own memoirs, the double Oscar winner has been the subject of no fewer than ten full-length biographies. J. Randy Taraborrelli's Elizabeth earns its shelf space by virtue of its lively insights into every stage of Taylor's tumultuous life: early stardom; eight marriages; battles with alcohol and drugs; triumphs and controversies; success as a businesswoman; and philanthropic work on AIDS and other issues. A brisk read about a true living legend.
Maclean's precise and nimble reading makes it nearly impossible for listeners to resist the pull of Taraborrelli's compassionate chronicle of the wild and tempestuous life of Elizabeth Taylor. With her more than a half dozen full-length biographies and five decades as tabloid fodder, most listeners will be well acquainted with surface events in Taylor's life. There are the eight marriages (five of them before she was 32), the affairs, multiple suicide attempts, decades of life-and-death health issues, the jewelry collection and finally her AIDS activism. Taraborrelli's strength as a biographer is his tenacity to dig beneath the surface to find the motivations and insecurities behind Taylor's actions, and his care helps listeners discover the dynamic charisma and good humor that have attracted men and moviegoers to her. Maclean's narration sails effortlessly over a life full of globe-trotting without stumbling over foreign names and locales. Taraborrelli bookends the production by reading a five-minute overview at the beginning and participating in a brief q&a session at the end of the fifth violet-colored disc, where he praises Taylor's indomitable will and ability to survive. Simultaneous release with the Warner hardcover (Reviews, May 22). (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Elizabeth Taylor's celebrated career and dramatic life have been chronicled by innumerable biographers as well as by Taylor herself twice (see Elizabeth Taylor Her Own Story and Elizabeth Taylor Takes Off: On Weight Gain, Weight Loss, Self-Esteem, and Self-Image). While not neglecting Taylor's professional career, best-selling author Taraborrelli (Once Upon a Time: Behind the Fairy Tale of Princess Grace and Prince Rainier) necessarily spends much time on her romances, especially her eight marriages; of these, the centerpiece is, of course, her explosive but loving relationship with fellow actor Richard Burton. Readers interested in the woman behind the celebrity will find especially satisfying the book's final sections, in which Taylor struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, becomes an AIDS activist, and revels in her roles as mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Taylor emerges from Taraborrelli's objective albeit sympathetic treatment a true survivor, facing the vicissitudes of aging with courage and humor. Considering the popularity of both the subject and the author, this is an essential purchase for all public libraries and highly recommended for academic libraries with strong film studies collections. A photo insert features several previously unpublished photographs. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/15/06.] M.C. Duhig, Carnegie Lib. of Pittsburgh Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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 isunable 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.