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Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Taylor has been called the "greatest movie star of all", writes biographer William J. Mann. A child star at the age of 12, she soon after launched into public awareness by MGM and a string of successful films, many of which are today considered "classics". Her resulting celebrity made her into a Hollywood icon, as she set the "gold standard" for Hollywood fame, and "created the model for stardom", adds Mann.
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Other observers, such as social critic Camille Paglia, similarly describe Taylor as "the greatest actress in film history," partly as a result of the "liquid realm of emotion" she expressed on screen. Paglia describes the effect Taylor had in some of her films:
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An electric, erotic charge vibrates the space between her face and the lens. It is an extrasensory, pagan phenomenon.
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Taylor had a major role in sparking the sexual revolution of the 1960s, as she pushed the envelope on sexuality: She was one of the first major stars to pose (mostly) nude in Playboy, and among the first to remove her clothes onscreen. In A Place in the Sun, filmed when she was 17, her surprising maturity shocked Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper, who wrote of her precocious sexuality. Film historian Andrew Sarris describes her love scenes in the film with Montgomery Clift as "unnerving�sybaritic�like gorging on chocolate sundaes".
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In real life, she was considered "a star without airs", notes Mann. Writer Gloria Steinem likewise described her as a "movie queen with no ego...expert at what she does, uncatty in her work relationships with other actresses". Mike Nichols, who directed her in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), said that of all the actors he�s worked with, Taylor had the "most democratic soul". Mann adds that she treated electricians and studio crew the "same way she would a Rothschild at a charity gala". Director