In many ways, we have Elizabeth Taylor to thank (or curse) for the modern age of stardom: she was one of the first actresses to garner as much attention for her personal life as for her work; she was an early activist for AIDS/H.I.V., an effort that earned her presidential recognition and no shortage of gratitude from the community for whom she raised more than $270 million; she was the first celebrity to have her own line, with Elizabeth Arden, of fragrances, earning her more money than she ever made acting; and, perhaps most tellingly, Taylor was photographed endlessly in all stages, and states, of a life that was long and glamorous but not entirely without disruption and heartbreak.
Forever Elizabeth, a new collection of images by the photographers who captured her best—from Terry O’Neill to Norman Parkinson to Eva Sereny—duly makes that point. And yet, as you spend more time with the book, you come to realize that you can’t tear your eyes away from the pages as easily as you might flit from one star’s Instagram account to another’s. Elizabeth Taylor, it turns out, may have been the inspiration for an entire generation, but she was an altogether singular actress, and woman. —Nathan King
Forever Elizabeth: Iconic Photographers on a Legendary Star is out now from ACC Art Books