Yolkobsens Salute Liz Taylor Maggie the cat is alive; long live Maggie the cat.

Elizabeth Taylor was not the first actress to play Maggie in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, but it’s a role that will always belong to her. Like the Maggie character, Taylor was not to be denied flavour, touch, attention , passion and, above all, her place in the universal pantheon of femmes fatales. And in many ways, Maggie is a part that represents the kind of spirit she brough t to both her personal and screen life. Goddess beautiful, numerically married, bejeweled by lovers and husbands alike, heroic in her pioneering on behalf of A IDS/HIV, she was never to go quietly or without passion in her life. And she wa s never to travel under the radar. Here is a quote from Taylor on the death of her second husband Mike Todd. It’s one of the many instances where her life, lived before formal as well as self -appointed audiences, became a found poem. “After the coffin was lowered into the ground, I asked everybody to leave. I knelt and said a prayer and went out by my self. Then the crowd broke loose and rushed at me and started tearing the veil f rom my hat for souvenirs.” It is not new that we have an appetite for the lives of celebrities. Much has be en written and much theorizing has been given over to why we do it. Do we live vicariously through these people who seem to lead idealized lives? Why do we id ealize their lives even when we see they are doomed to complexity of disappointm ent, pettiness and emotional fatigue and failure just like the rest of us? The only difference is they seem to do it with a great deal of attention and with mo ney and glamour as a cushion. The passing of Elizabeth Taylor is a testament to a changing time in the world o f celebrities. Hers was an era where it was more difficult to be famous merely f or being famous; in her time you had to participate in creating something; not j ust show up for the cameras living your “reality” life. Taylor pulled off what so few actresses and so few women living out loud have be en able to do. She made the femme fatale a sympathetic character. She humaniz ed the woman who could sink a thousand ships with one violet-eyed glance. Men w anted her, but women liked her. Men threw priceless stones at her feet and cont inued to beg for her hand in marriage. Women heard and read about it all and wished her well, even the old time feminis ts. I disagree with Camille Paglia enough to misuse her quote here. “But the fe mme fatale expresses women’s ancient and eternal control of the sexual realm. The specter of the femme fatale stalks all men’s relations with women.” To Maggie the cat with fondness and gratitude, always.

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