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The Hats of Elizabeth Taylor

We lost Elizabeth Taylor this week and the world is poorer for her passing.  No doubt about it, she was a larger than life figure, a fabulous actress and one of the great beauties of the twentieth century.  It is said she had no bad camera angles and I believe it. 

Among other things, she looked great in hats and was not afraid to wear them.  She was never one to shy away from a strong fashion statement all through her 79 years of life.  She will be eulogized elsewhere, but it is appropriate here, I think, to celebrate Elizabeth Taylor through the hats she wore at various important times in her life.

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A young Elizabeth Taylor sports a simple headscarf in one of her first professional publicity photos.  Already a star, she made her mark in 1944 at the age of twelve in National Velvet

 

Wearing a traditional wedding veil, Elizabeth poses outside the church after wedding playboy Nicky Hilton, the first of her seven husbands, in 1950. She was only 18. He was 24 and the heir to the Hilton hotel fortune.  The marriage lasted less than a year, but she was certainly a beautiful bride, wasn’t she?  Husband number two was actor Michael Wilding, with whom she had two children.

 

 Some say that the love of Elizabeth Taylor’s life was Hollywood mogul, Michael Todd. Here she is with him, looking radiant in a sleek turban.  She left Michael Wilding and married Todd in 1957.  He was killed in a plane crash in 1958 leaving a bereft Elizabeth Taylor.

 

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Magnificent headgear for Talor’s ground breaking performance as Cleopatra in 1963.  It was during the filming of this movie that she  and her co-star, Richard Burton, began a high profile romance that resulted in Taylor’s divorce from husband number four, Eddie Fisher, and her eventual marriage to Burton.  

 Here’s a hat that proves that Taylor looked good in just about anything she wore.  It’s part of a costume for one of her less memorable films and one of the few which was a box office and critical flop.  Boom, made in 1967, was a film adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play, The MIlktrain Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore.  It co-starred Elizabeth Taylor and  Richard Burton, who later admitted that everyone on the film was high or drunk most of the time.   I think the costume designer must have been feeling no pain when that hat was designed.

 

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Taylor looked smashing in a Turban worn for her cameo on the soap opera General Hospital in 1981

 

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 Another day another Turban.  Elizabeth Taylor made the turban her own iconic fashion look in the 1980’s.

 

 

Even as the end of her life approached, Taylor never lost her passion and enthusiasm. After her acting days were past, her perfume company doing well, and her work on behalf of her AIDS Foundation making a real difference, Elizabeth Taylor always kept on keeping on in spite of the health problems that dogged her for most of her life.  She was devastated by her friend Michael Jackson’s death. Here she is soon after his passing in a wheelchair, yet still looking beautiful and wearing a jaunty baseball cap covered in flowers.

The hats of Elizabeth Taylor tell a story  themselves.   They are part and parcel of an extraordinary life  It was a life lived to the fullest and filled, as life should be, of ups, downs, highs and lows. Elizabeth Taylor negotiated them all not only with beauty and style but with a depth of character and largeness of spirit that will be long remembered by the entire world.  RIP Elizabeth and hats off to you.