Elizabeth Taylor, 1932–2011


Remember her for her incomparable beauty, her great performances in great films, the camp confections like Cleopatra and Boom, and years of activism on behalf of gay people:

There is no gay agenda, it’s a human agenda. Why shouldn’t gay people be able to live as open and freely as everybody else? What it comes down to, ultimately, is love. How can anything bad come out of love? The bad stuff comes out of mistrust, misunderstanding and, God knows, from hate and from ignorance.

It would also be remiss of me (since no obituaries will be tasteless enough to mention it) if I didn’t note her presence at the heart of one of the more notorious novels of the past fifty years. I often used to wonder whether anyone had told her about Crash. Not that she’d want to know about it if they did; who would be eager to read detailed plans for their own horrific death? But it was her status as a 20th century icon, the nonpareil of film stardom, that made her the perfect choice as the focus of Vaughan’s obsessions in Ballard’s novel.


Elizabeth Taylor: a career in clips
RIP Elizabeth Taylor: A Ballardian Primer