Elizabeth Taylor: A Private Life for Public Consumption

Ellis Cashmore. Bloomsbury, $25.95 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-6289-2069-7
Cashmore (Beyond Black: Celebrity and Race in Obama’s America) combines broad research and personal observations in this lively study examining how Elizabeth Taylor transformed our perception of modern celebrity. He depicts the Oscar-winning actress’s life in the spotlight, beginning with her doomed affair with Eddie Fisher, followed by her very public romance with Richard Burton. He chronicles their tumultuous marriage and lavish lifestyle, as well as their shared dependency on alcohol, which, combined with Taylor’s abuse of prescription medication, led to her highly publicized stint at the Betty Ford Center. Taylor’s ability to deflect media criticism is impressive as she develops a beloved perfume brand at considerable profit and becomes a persuasive figurehead in the fight against AIDS, a story that will leave readers wondering why she didn’t enter the business and political arenas sooner. Finally, Cashmore shrewdly asserts that Taylor’s greatest role was as herself, cultivating a public image that redefined modern society’s relationship to fame and fed the media’s insatiable appetite for public spectacle. 16 b&w illus. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/18/2016
Release date: 02/25/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 432 pages - 978-1-62892-070-3
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