Sunday, April 3, 2011

note on a passing

When the news came last week of the death of Elizabeth Taylor, I was reminded of the time when I was nine or 10 years old that I saw her, up close and personal. I went with my father to the MGM studio to visit the set of "Father of the Bride." My uncle Malcolm was an art director at MGM and, although he was not working on that particular movie, he asked my father if he would add some "technical advice" on the wedding ceremony scene. Well, who could say no? Part of the movie was filmed on the lot, but the actual wedding was filmed at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills.

I remember riding in the car to the studio lot, so antsy and squirmy. The idea of seeing her ~ I had seen both "Lassie Come Home" and "National Velvet" by that time and thought she was wonderful ~ caused great excitement. Then we rolled up to the gate, my father told the guard who he was and where we were going, and the next thing we were walking into a huge hangar-like sound stage where people were scurrying around setting up lights and other equipment. My father warned me to be quiet and not to squeal when I saw the "star." But there she was, a radiantly beautiful girl, all of 18, about to get married, or so I thought. It turned out that this was to be a rehearsal of the wedding scenes; processing up the aisle, where to stand, who goes where, who says what, basically how the Anglican marriage ceremony is conducted.

And then it was over. My father took my hand and brought me over to where the cast was standing. I said "How do you do?" and shook hands with everyone. When I shook her hand, she leaned down and said "Hello, Susan," in a very soft, sweet voice. And yes, she did have violet eyes. I probably blushed beet red but I don't remember. My father chatted with my uncle while I oogled the actors, and then we went home. I do remember telling my mother, "She said "hello" to me!"

So that's the story of how my life-long fascination with Elizabeth Taylor began. The whole thing started with only two words, "Hello, Susan" but I will never forget them. RIP, Liz.


Alexandra said...

What a lovely memory! Thank you for sharing!
I have particularly disappointed with the remembrances of Ms. Taylor, they talk a lot of smack about her "tempestuous life" and very little about her ardent advocacy and fund-raising for AIDS Research and AIDS patients. Truly she is to commended for her legacy of philanthropy and for persevering through the storms of life, she may have set her course and sailed into those storms, but to her credit she never gave up the ship. Your tender remembrance is a lovely counterpoint to so much said about her that lately that was ungenerous and short sighted.

Anonymous said...

Liz E. says:

Sic transit gloria mundi...

That was a lovely story, Susan.

mary ann said...

Wonderful, thank you.