How Many Times Did Elizabeth Taylor Marry?

This is much better than celebrity gossip!

Pop Quiz:  How many times did Elizabeth Taylor marry?

Mike Todd, Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton twice… I don’t remember the others.

She married eight times. A record?

That was the kind of trivia I learned from my mother’s movie magazines, which were all but required reading at our house. One minute I’d be lost in Jane Eyre, the next I’d be absorbed in the lusty world of celebrity marriages and divorces.

Mom and I were Elizabeth Taylor fans and watched her old movies on TV:  Butterfield 8, Giant, National Velvet, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.  We read the articles about smouldering Liz, who was always marrying other movie stars, singers, and rich businessmen.  At her wedding to Richard Burton, she wore a yellow chiffon baby-doll gown, with a floral garland entwined in her  brunette braid.  I thought of it as a plait, not a braid.  I wanted plaited hair, preferably an upswept hairdo.  But I wasn’t  thinking about weddings:  my future was a gloomy blank until I read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. And anyway I preferred my mother’s simple white wedding gown to Liz’s haute couture.

Mom  threw out her wedding gown and the wedding pictures when Dad  left.  I wonder:  was Elizabeth also heartbroken, crying and throwing out her wedding pictures?  It’s like burning letters:  some have the habit, some don’t.   Perhaps everything seems unreal after a certain point, if your photo is always in the press.  Throwing out photos becomes an empty gesture.

It must be bewildering to be a star, a beautiful actress, a vamp, living an unstable life, seeking excitement, a prey of paparazzi.  Elizabeth Taylor seemed more real to me after I read a fascinating biography . (Sorry, I don’t remember which.)  Anyway, she had many gay friends and was an activist for AIDS charities. She wasn’t just a serial marrier.

 Here’s a healthier rush for celeb gossip addicts: Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls is a fascinating, reasonably well-written novel about three smart women who move to New York City and struggle to survive the hustling and competition.  Celebrity ruins the lives of two of the main characters, one a singer/actress, the other exploited as a foreign film star because of her big breasts.  And the prima singer/actress with mental health problems almost ruins the life of the her fiend Anne Wells, the one stable person in the group. A very unflattering portrait of a spoiled Hollywood star.

There is a Virago edition if you need validation for your reading choice. And it’s great summer reading!

2 thoughts on “How Many Times Did Elizabeth Taylor Marry?”

  1. We had a copy of Valley of the Dolls at camp the year I was 14 (1970). We all used to know the exact page numbers of the hottest sex scenes.

    1. I was fascinated by the changes in the three women as they began to succeed NY and elsewhere. Neely betrayed and clawed her way to the top, Jennifer literally died for love, and only Anne remained stable. A sad book really.

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