WCW: Elizabeth Taylor


She was one of the last “old-school” movie stars, raised in the Hollywood studio system, Elizabeth Taylor was a popular child actor and matured into the grand dame of film. She was bigger than life in more ways than one — known for her eight marriages (twice to Richard Burton), her love of extravagant jewels, and her tempestuous movie roles. But those famous violet eyes weren’t just the ones behind Maggie in Cat on Hot Tin Roof and Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. Liz — who hated to be called Liz — also starred in many historical costume movies over the years, some of which were made as big an impact as the roles that won her Oscars. It’s time we give Elizabeth Taylor her Woman Crush Wednesday due.


Helen Burns in Jane Eyre (1943)

Elizabeth Taylor in Jane Eyre, 1942

An uncredited but important role.


Amy in Little Women (1949)

Little Women (1949)

Bonus kitty!


Rebecca in Ivanhoe (1952)

Elizabeth Taylor in Ivanhoe, 1952

Someone online has a thing for this flick.

Elizabeth Taylor in Ivanhoe, 1952

Making wimples hot in the ’50s.


Lady Patricia in Beau Brummell (1954)

Elizabeth Taylor in Beau Brummel, 1954

Kendra may have found nothing worth watching in this movie, but I’m still digging the white wig with the black eyebrows.


Susanna Drake Shawnessy in Raintree County (1957)

Elizabeth Taylor in Raintree Country, 1958

She makes a fine Civil War-era Southern belle.


Cleopatra in Cleopatra (1963)

Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, 1963
Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, 1963

See the gold lame! Feel the fire between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor! Hear 20th-Century Fox go bankrupt!


Katharina in The Taming of the Shrew (1967)

Elizabeth Taylor in Taming of the Shrew, 1967

Opposite then-husband Burton, this is pretty much the hottest version of Shakespeare’s play ever.


Masked Courtesan in Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)

Elizabeth Taylor in Anne of the Thousand Days, 1969

A tiny uncredited part, just so she could be on-set with Burton (who played Henry VIII) and show off some Tudor jewelry he gave her.



Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music (1977)

Elizabeth Taylor in A LIttle Night Music, 1977

The film was widely panned, but she still looks so good.



Marina Rudd in The Mirror Crack’d (1980)

Elizabeth Taylor in The Mirror Crack'd, 1980

Not a historical costume movie, but she played an actress who performed a Shakespearean role, providing scenes of La Liz in Elizabethan costume.


Louella Parsons in Malice in Wonderland (1985)

Elizabeth Taylor in Malice in Wonderland, 1985

1980s does 1940s, Taylor looks perfectly glam.


Madam Conti in North and South (1985)

Elizabeth Taylor in North and South, 1985

Cheesy but fond memories for some of us!



These are just a few — what’s your favorite of Elizabeth Taylor’s historical costume roles?


About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

12 Responses

  1. Katie Lewis

    More than anyone else, she is the mother of “I don’t care if its period, I want to show off my rack”, but I still can’t hate.

      • Janet Nickerson

        Dangling in the Tudor rack is the pearl La Peregrina, once owned by Mary I (gift from Philip II of Spain).

        A side note, Taylor’s career could have started in 1939, when a friend of her mother told her to take her child to MGM to apply for the role of Bonnie Blue Butler in ‘Gone With The Wind’ because of her resemblance to Vivien Leigh.

  2. mmcquown

    Loved her — at least on screen. Offscreen, the two-headed monster, the Lizandick, was a bit much to take. Fortunately, she outgrew it. Fave role has to be Rebecca in “Ivanhoe.” I’ve always had a thing for fair skin and dark hair.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      I did love their fire — wouldn’t want to be near it in reality, but I admired how brutally honest their connection always seemed, onscreen & off.

  3. Susan Pola

    I have one favourite costume drama Ms Taylor was in. Taming of the Shrew with all the glorious Daniel Donati costumes. The others I like are Ivanhoe, Rain tree County & Anne of a Thousand Days. With the movie was told from Anne’s viewpoint as the play was. But Henry VIII was Burton…

  4. hsc

    “Not a historical costume movie, but she played an actress who performed a Shakespearean role, providing scenes of La Liz in Elizabethan costume.”

    Actually, “The Mirror Crack’d” was set in 1953 (with a flashback to WWII), so the whole film was technically a period piece (attempt):


    (Again with that “I want my entire head turned into a floral arrangement” thing. Didn’t she even get married like that once?)

    And her character is playing Mary, Queen of Scots in a costume film opposite Kim Novak’s character as Elizabeth I:


    Novak even sports an attempt at an Elizabethan pair of bodies in one scene:


    “Opposite then-husband Burton, this is pretty much the hottest version of Shakespeare’s play ever.”

    Nowhere near as good a production, but I’d personally give “hottest version” of “The Taming of the Shrew” to the 1976 ACT production that ran on PBS, starring Marc Singer and– uh, Marc Singer’s abs:


    (And Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson were pretty darn hot in the “TotS” scenes in “Kiss Me Kate”…)

    My personal favorite Liz “historical costume” movie would have to be “Cleopatra,” because if you can’t get period accuracy, go for broke and make it look like it was designed by a team of stoned drag queens.

  5. Karen H

    Shrew, no contest. From the same team as ’68’s Romeo and Juliet. Costumes, sets, music–all gorgeous. And it’s hilarious! I think Elizabeth did quite well with Shakespeare, and Burton was, of course, magnificent. The “chubby Burtons” took some heat from reviewers. Yeah. We should all be fat like her. One of the greatest screen beauties.

  6. thedementedfairy

    (And Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson were pretty darn hot in the “TotS” scenes in “Kiss Me Kate”…) My favourite Howard Keel film. No, hang on, Kismet [we walked down the aisle to ‘Night of my Nights’]. No, 7 brides. Dammit. Hang on, TIGHTS in Kiss me Kate, so that wins.