Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Let's Learn About Elizabeth Taylor's Early Years
Her parents were originally from Arkansas City, Kansas. Her father was an art dealer and her mother a former actress whose stage name was "Sara Sothern". Sothern retired from the stage when she and Francis Taylor married in 1926 in New York City. Taylor's two first names are in honor of her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Mary (Rosemond) Taylor. A dual citizen of the UK and the U.S., she was born a British subject through her birth on British soil and an American citizen through her parents. She reportedly sought, in 1965, to renounce her United States citizenship, to wit "Though never accepted by the State Department, Liz renounced in 1965. Attempting to shield much of her European income from U.S. taxes, Liz wished to become solely a British citizen. According to news reports at the time, officials denied her request when she failed to complete the renunciation oath, refusing to say that she renounced 'all allegiance to the United States of America'."
At the age of three, Taylor began taking ballet lessons with Vaccani. Shortly before the beginning of World War II, her parents decided to return to the United States to avoid hostilities. Her mother took the children first, arriving in New York in April 1939, while her father remained in London to wrap up matters in the art business, arriving in November. They settled in Los Angeles, California, where Sara's family, the Warmbrodts, were then living.
Through Hedda Hopper, the Taylors were introduced to Andrea Berens, a wealthy English socialite and also fiancée of Cheever Cowden, chairman and major stockholder of Universal Pictures in Hollywood. Berens insisted that Sara bring Elizabeth to see Cowden who, she was adamant, would be dazzled by Elizabeth's breathtaking dark beauty; she was born with a mutation that caused double rows of eyelashes, which enhanced her appearance on camera. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer soon took interest in the British youngster as well but she failed to secure a contract with them after an informal audition with producer John Considine had shown that she couldn't sing. However, on 18 September 1941, Universal Pictures signed Elizabeth to a six-month renewable contract at $100 a week.
Taylor appeared in her first motion picture at the age of nine in There's One Born Every Minute, her only film for Universal Pictures. Less than six months after she signed with Universal, her contract was reviewed by Edward Muhl, the studio's production chief. Muhl met with Taylor's agent, Myron Selznick (brother of David), and Cheever Cowden. Muhl challenged Selznick's and Cowden's constant support of Taylor: "She can't sing, she can't dance, she can't perform. What's more, her mother has to be one of the most unbearable women it has been my displeasure to meet."
Universal cancelled Taylor's contract just short of her tenth birthday in February 1942. Nevertheless on 15 October 1942, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signed Taylor to $100 a week for up to three months to appear as "Priscilla" in the film Lassie Come Home.
Now you know.
Elizabeth Taylor Dies at 79 - RIP
Elizabeth Taylor Dies Aged 79 (news video)