Newman's early tribute to Taylor
Paul Newman Called Elizabeth Taylor 'a Helluva Actress'
Superstar to superstar. To Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor was "a functioning voluptuary … a courageous survivor, a helluva actress and someone I am extremely proud to know."Even in the sanitized 1958 MGM version of Tennessee Williams's potent drama in which they costarred, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof – with the sultry Newman as the drunkard ex-athlete Brick and an indelible Taylor as his neglected wife, Maggie the Cat – the two sent audiences' pulses racing. But they were more than simply sex symbols. Both proved themselves Academy Award-level actors and world-class humanitarians.
Now, sadly, they are both gone. Newman died at age 83, in 2008, and Taylor, at 79, early Wednesday morning.
Fortunately, their performances remain – as does a tribute Newman paid Taylor on behalf of Turner Classic Movies.
"What can you say about a legend?" Newman muses at the beginning of the four-minute video love letter. Acknowledging but not dwelling upon her remarkable violent eyes or stunning beauty, Newman instead concentrates on her screen presence, "her volatility, her sense of truth."
"On the screen," he said, "her very presence seemed to radiate charm."
And while "she practically grew up in front of the camera," Newman noted, "her life has not been an easy or a private one, but a series of tribulations, serious illnesses, senseless tragedy and lost love."
Left a widow during the making of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when the private plane carrying her husband, impresario Mike Todd, crashed in New Mexico, Taylor continued acting as Maggie, finding the work therapeutic. "I was overwhelmed with her professionalism," Newman said.
"One thing for sure: She is not afraid to take chances in front of people. I find a lot of actors who reach the top, they become very protective of themselves, and self-indulgent, but not Elizabeth," added Newman. "I was always staggered by her ferocity."