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A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor

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Born in England to socially ambitious parents, Elizabeth Taylor was catapulted into child stardom and molded by MGM into the great violet-eyed beauty of postwar America. Along the way, she also became an award-winning actress, without training or theory, without teachers or counsel, ultimately dazzling audiences everywhere with spectacular performances. Elizabeth Taylor ha Born in England to socially ambitious parents, Elizabeth Taylor was catapulted into child stardom and molded by MGM into the great violet-eyed beauty of postwar America. Along the way, she also became an award-winning actress, without training or theory, without teachers or counsel, ultimately dazzling audiences everywhere with spectacular performances. Elizabeth Taylor has lived nothing less than an extraordinarily remarkable life. With an abundance of new information, internationally acclaimed biographer Donald Spoto explores the gripping story of her brutalizing six-month marriage to compulsive gambler and hotel heir Nicky Hilton, her romances with top Hollywood directors, and her marriage to the ailing Michael Wilding. Four years later, she would be swept off her feet by showman Mike Todd, into an alternately violent and loving marriage that would end after a year with Todd's death in a plane crash, leaving Taylor, at the age of twenty-six, a twice-divorced widow with three children. Here are Taylor's years with Eddie Fisher, Republican Senator John Warner and Richard Burton, with whom she would share a hedonistic, brash lifestyle that would virtually define the 1960s jet set. These years are at last fully and richly explored with mines of fresh material, some of it shocking, some of it funny, all of it shedding new light on the complexities of the most beguiling star in movie history. Spoto candidly explores all the highs and lows of Taylor's exploits both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Throughout the course of her tumultuous marriages, Taylor never stopped making movies, and from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Cleopatra to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Taylor dazzled audiences with performances that won her two Academy Awards. The cast of supporting players in her life is unparalleled and never less than fascinating: here are Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner, Montgomery Clift and James Dean, Tennessee Williams and Franco Zeffirelli, Malcolm Forb


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Born in England to socially ambitious parents, Elizabeth Taylor was catapulted into child stardom and molded by MGM into the great violet-eyed beauty of postwar America. Along the way, she also became an award-winning actress, without training or theory, without teachers or counsel, ultimately dazzling audiences everywhere with spectacular performances. Elizabeth Taylor ha Born in England to socially ambitious parents, Elizabeth Taylor was catapulted into child stardom and molded by MGM into the great violet-eyed beauty of postwar America. Along the way, she also became an award-winning actress, without training or theory, without teachers or counsel, ultimately dazzling audiences everywhere with spectacular performances. Elizabeth Taylor has lived nothing less than an extraordinarily remarkable life. With an abundance of new information, internationally acclaimed biographer Donald Spoto explores the gripping story of her brutalizing six-month marriage to compulsive gambler and hotel heir Nicky Hilton, her romances with top Hollywood directors, and her marriage to the ailing Michael Wilding. Four years later, she would be swept off her feet by showman Mike Todd, into an alternately violent and loving marriage that would end after a year with Todd's death in a plane crash, leaving Taylor, at the age of twenty-six, a twice-divorced widow with three children. Here are Taylor's years with Eddie Fisher, Republican Senator John Warner and Richard Burton, with whom she would share a hedonistic, brash lifestyle that would virtually define the 1960s jet set. These years are at last fully and richly explored with mines of fresh material, some of it shocking, some of it funny, all of it shedding new light on the complexities of the most beguiling star in movie history. Spoto candidly explores all the highs and lows of Taylor's exploits both in front of the camera and behind the scenes. Throughout the course of her tumultuous marriages, Taylor never stopped making movies, and from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to Cleopatra to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Taylor dazzled audiences with performances that won her two Academy Awards. The cast of supporting players in her life is unparalleled and never less than fascinating: here are Louis B. Mayer and Jack Warner, Montgomery Clift and James Dean, Tennessee Williams and Franco Zeffirelli, Malcolm Forb

30 review for A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor

  1. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    If you could not imagine a biography of Elizabeth Taylor being boring you would be wrong! This one is. It’s hard to say why I disliked this book so much but bland is the word that comes to mind. While Spoto chronicles the ups and downs of her life I detected an undercurrent that the author did not want to write this book. He added mundane things that were of no importance just to fill the page with words. Elizabeth’s life was nothing if not passionate (as the title suggests), however this biography If you could not imagine a biography of Elizabeth Taylor being boring you would be wrong! This one is. It’s hard to say why I disliked this book so much but bland is the word that comes to mind. While Spoto chronicles the ups and downs of her life I detected an undercurrent that the author did not want to write this book. He added mundane things that were of no importance just to fill the page with words. Elizabeth’s life was nothing if not passionate (as the title suggests), however this biography bears not a trace of passion. I happily skipped my way along just to get to the end. It was going to be a 1* - but I gave it 2* because I liked the pictures.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shawn Thrasher

    There are better biographies of Elizabeth Taylor, that arch serial monogamist famed for being at one time the most beautiful in the world, and also the most scandalous woman in the world, and mostly at the same time. How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood comes to mind. If you want read a book, check this one out. Spato's book is as manicured as a Beverly Hills garden and his writing is as clipped as the finest topiary. But that weighs against the book at times; Elizabeth Taylor i There are better biographies of Elizabeth Taylor, that arch serial monogamist famed for being at one time the most beautiful in the world, and also the most scandalous woman in the world, and mostly at the same time. How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood comes to mind. If you want read a book, check this one out. Spato's book is as manicured as a Beverly Hills garden and his writing is as clipped as the finest topiary. But that weighs against the book at times; Elizabeth Taylor is an over the top, lust for life character; she lived big, worked big, ate big, drank big, married big, divorced big, acted big, swore big, was big. Spato's book is anything but. HOWEVER, if you are inbetween seasons on You Must Remember This, the podcast that explores "the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood's first century" (if you are reading a movie star biography and haven't yet listened to Karina Longworth's glamorous and fabulous podcast, you need to go download and listen NOW), then LISTEN to C.M. Herbert read this book. She's incredible, mostly because SHE SOUNDS JUST LIKE ELIZABETH TAYLOR (Richard Burton, not so much). I was hooked into this audio within a few minutes, and love almost every single minute of it. Herbert's rich narration more than makes up for Spato's psychoanalyzing (and sometimes bullshit).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Phyllis

    This is my 1st Spoto book. I would think a biographer would attempt to be neutral, but it seemed as if Spoto doesn't like his subject. And with the details he writes of, who could blame him? I believe there is much more to this woman than these overripe romances he lavishes all his attention upon. Thirty some years ago, I read of biography of Montgomery Clift and I still vividly remember the marvelous picture that author painted of Taylor. That is the image I choose to believe is closer to the t This is my 1st Spoto book. I would think a biographer would attempt to be neutral, but it seemed as if Spoto doesn't like his subject. And with the details he writes of, who could blame him? I believe there is much more to this woman than these overripe romances he lavishes all his attention upon. Thirty some years ago, I read of biography of Montgomery Clift and I still vividly remember the marvelous picture that author painted of Taylor. That is the image I choose to believe is closer to the truth, not the insanely romance obsessed prima donna Spoto paints.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Judith Weshinskey-Price

    The author attempts to psychoanalyze her too much. I don't care why the author thinks she did what she did. I want to know what she did and come to my own conclusions. The author attempts to psychoanalyze her too much. I don't care why the author thinks she did what she did. I want to know what she did and come to my own conclusions.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    This year I've read a lot biographies of old movie stars and one of my favorite was Marilyn Monroe: The Biography written by Donald Spoto. When I saw that the same author had published a biography of Elizabeth Taylor, I was overwhelmed and was eager to start reading. Unfortunately, however, the book turned out to be rather disappointing, and the lack of passion is quite sensible. I think the story of Elizabeth Taylor is quite exciting and deserves better. This year I've read a lot biographies of old movie stars and one of my favorite was Marilyn Monroe: The Biography written by Donald Spoto. When I saw that the same author had published a biography of Elizabeth Taylor, I was overwhelmed and was eager to start reading. Unfortunately, however, the book turned out to be rather disappointing, and the lack of passion is quite sensible. I think the story of Elizabeth Taylor is quite exciting and deserves better.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jaime

    This was a well-written and intimate view of the famous actress, Elizabeth Taylor. This biography opened my eyes and gave me a new insight into Ms. Taylor's life and personal struggles. She was a private individual who wanted to live a private and loving life. One thing I will say about this is that it is an incredible life! This was a well-written and intimate view of the famous actress, Elizabeth Taylor. This biography opened my eyes and gave me a new insight into Ms. Taylor's life and personal struggles. She was a private individual who wanted to live a private and loving life. One thing I will say about this is that it is an incredible life!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Circa Girl

    I agree with another reviewer that this should really be called a filmography of Elizabeth Taylor rather than biography. I really wanted to know more about her relationships and personal, explicitly stated outlook rather than the author's interpretation of her character roles and analysis of her motives. It was however well written and was for the most part entertaining. I agree with another reviewer that this should really be called a filmography of Elizabeth Taylor rather than biography. I really wanted to know more about her relationships and personal, explicitly stated outlook rather than the author's interpretation of her character roles and analysis of her motives. It was however well written and was for the most part entertaining.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ☯Lilbookworm☮

    Amazing life, lady and book. Really in depth, and it didn't gloss over anything. Amazing life, lady and book. Really in depth, and it didn't gloss over anything.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ulla

    Didn't even finish it which happens very rarely! Didn't even finish it which happens very rarely!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Nel

    Interesting, occasionally quite insightful biography on Taylor. Somehow disappointing to me for a Spoto book, though.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Emily Turner

    I love this book! I've read it 3 times! I love this book! I've read it 3 times!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dort Hanshaw

    Disappointing,

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    It's so sad that such a beautiful and talented woman battled so many demons during her life. It's so sad that such a beautiful and talented woman battled so many demons during her life.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    This book is what introduced me to Liz and I have loved her ever since. She is a beautiful soul and she is my inspiration because of this novel! Worth the read, for sure. It could change your life!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Moira Mackinnon

    Elizabeth Taylor was a true child of the studios. She never really had a childhood at all, but instead rushed into adulthood, marrying the abusive Nicky Hilton when she was 18. Everything she knew about life she learned from the movies. A kind and loving friend, she has always been drawn to wounded creatures. Many of her friends belonged to Hollywood's gay community, and their deaths, particularly that of Rock Hudson, drew her into the fight against AIDS. Others, like Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton Elizabeth Taylor was a true child of the studios. She never really had a childhood at all, but instead rushed into adulthood, marrying the abusive Nicky Hilton when she was 18. Everything she knew about life she learned from the movies. A kind and loving friend, she has always been drawn to wounded creatures. Many of her friends belonged to Hollywood's gay community, and their deaths, particularly that of Rock Hudson, drew her into the fight against AIDS. Others, like Eddie Fisher, Richard Burton and Montgomery Clift, were addicted to drugs and alcohol. Able to see the danger to others, she remained blind to the destructive route her own life was taking. Her disastrous relationship with Richard Burton and her own chronic ill health dragged her further down the path to addiction. Between 1980 and 1985 she was issued more than 1,000 prescriptions for 28 different drugs, all of which she washed down with Jack Daniels. All of this provides great fodder for a biographer. Spoto takes us behind the scenes of a life lived in the glare of publicity and reveals a woman of honesty, compassion and talent who is, first and foremost, a survivor.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Autumn Cook

    Interesting. The lives of child stars always seem so tragic to me. They are forced by their parents to grow up so quickly. Elizabeth Taylor's mother forced it even more having her eating oysters at 10pm in New Orleans at 2 years old. The woman never stood a chance at a normal life. My bookclub chose this biography because we wanted to hear the details of all of her marriages and her life. She was such a glamorous woman in the public eye but what was she like behind closed doors? This was definit Interesting. The lives of child stars always seem so tragic to me. They are forced by their parents to grow up so quickly. Elizabeth Taylor's mother forced it even more having her eating oysters at 10pm in New Orleans at 2 years old. The woman never stood a chance at a normal life. My bookclub chose this biography because we wanted to hear the details of all of her marriages and her life. She was such a glamorous woman in the public eye but what was she like behind closed doors? This was definitely a very interesting read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Tabatha

    To be a book about the most dramatic and passionate woman in Hollywood at one time, this book was boring ! It was just a matter of fact book with no enthusiasm at all. Yes, I learned things that I never knew about Elizabeth Taylor. She was more dramatic in her personal life than I ever knew. However, I often had to overlook Spoto’s analysis of her to come to my own conclusion of how she truly was as a person. This was a very disappointing book.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Mc

    Audible. Not worth it. Surprisingly boring.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Georiscs

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dana

  21. 5 out of 5

    Svetla

  22. 4 out of 5

    Linda Bray

  23. 4 out of 5

    Terence Shanabrook

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  25. 4 out of 5

    Qelilah

  26. 5 out of 5

    Teddie

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Estelle

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angie

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