Everyone knows mainstream news outlets have files full of pre-written obituaries for prominent living celebrities (“Gerald Ford was mauled by wolves today…”), but never before has the phenomenon been illustrated so perfectly as it was today, when the New York Times ran an Elizabeth Taylor obituary written by a reporter who died six years ago. A “zombituary”, if you will. In their defense, this level of fawning is timeless:
In a world of flickering images, Elizabeth Taylor was a constant star. First appearing onscreen at age 9, she grew up there, never passing through an awkward age. It was one quick leap from “National Velvet” to “A Place in the Sun” and from there to “Cleopatra” as she was indelibly transformed from a vulnerable child actress into a voluptuous film queen.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who directed her in “Suddenly Last Summer” and “Cleopatra,” remembered seeing her for the first time, in Cannes, when she was 18. “She was the most incredible vision of loveliness I have ever seen in my life,” he said. “And she was sheer innocence.”
Marilyn Monroe was the sex goddess, Grace Kelly the ice queen, Audrey Hepburn the eternal gamine. Ms. Taylor was beauty incarnate. As the director George Stevens said when he chose her for “A Place in the Sun,” the role called for the “beautiful girl in the yellow Cadillac convertible that every American boy, some time or other, thinks he can marry.” [via TheDailyWhat]
Playwright and reporter Mel Gussow died in 2005, and no, not of AIDS, you insensitive bastard. Ironically, it was just last night that I was reading Playboy’s interview with veteran political journalist Helen Thomas, who was lamenting the decline of print journalism: