When English society and celebrity photographer, Richard Young decided to pay tribute to Dame Elizabeth Taylor with his first American exhibition, the timing was sheer perfection. It is after all, the week of both the Oscars where I’m sure one of the silver screens greatest legends will be duly remembered today, and what would have been her 80th birthday tomorrow (February 27th).
The place? One that the gem loving actress would surely have approved – jeweler du jour Stephen Webster‘s store on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. In fact, Stephen caught the icon’s eye early on in his career when she asked him to design a ring and bracelet set with lavender chalcedony to match her renowned violet eyes.
Richard’s 18 exquisite images document the last 40 years of a life that captivated us all, including my favorite, a photo succinctly capturing one of the greatest love stories of a century, a kiss between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. “She saw me, threw her arms around his neck and kissed him just long enough for me to get the shot, then pointed her finger at me, and said enough,” dismissing the photographer so the passionate yet tempestuous couple could enjoy the rest of the evening without interruption.
Butterfield 8 and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are two of my all time favorite films, not to mention the epic Cleopatra. How could fellow Piscean nicknamed Jewels not be enthralled? Of all the celebrities I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my lifetime, she tops the list. Trust me, the woman lived up to every ounce of the legend. From child star of National Velvet, her infamous, often scandalous marriages (six to be exact), Richard Burton buying her the worlds largest diamond, and ultimately her tireless efforts to raise funds for research into finding a cure for AIDS. The woman had guts, loved, and lived life big. My admiration knows no boundaries.
I’ve known Richard Young for several decades myself, so it was an unexpected treat to attend the opening last Wednesday. I took a distinct pleasure in announcing upon my arrival, “for once I get to turn the camera on you!” As much as I enjoyed seeing Richard and so many of my friends, I couldn’t help fantasizing about everyone disappearing so I could play dress up with Stephen’s superlative jewels alone with Liz.
The food was none to shabby either. Food by Design LA‘s passed trays of nibbles were nothing short of mini works of art in themselves. Quite tasty too – as you can see they disappeared faster than I could photograph!
Don’t miss the exhibition or the sparkling eye candy – the photos will be up for the next five weeks, and 5% of all proceeds will be donated Elizabeth Taylor’s charity, amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research. And please do tell me, what was your favorite Elizabeth Taylor film and/or moment?