I have an Elizabeth Taylor story…
Before I moved into this condo, I lived for a decade in a quiet neighborhood — a quasi-suburb of Milwaukee. My next door neighbor was one Gianni (pronounced “Johnny”) Bozzacchi, who wore his red hair long. His young wife Kelly had recently died, and one day while I was out tending my summertime flowers, he came forward and asked me if I was a “movie star,” which of course was his way of getting acquainted so he could tell me all about his career as Elizabeth Taylor’s longtime personal photographer.
The next time we met was in the dazzling lobby of the Shorecrest Hotel. Gianni was in town promoting his book, so naturally I ended up writing a review, along with numerous others who deemed his art first class. I’m thinking that Boswell can provide you with a copy.
Following Taylor’s death, I noticed him being interviewed on WISN television, spinning out his Taylor tales, and somewhere I saw a paragraph about Taylor asking him to marry her. He said he never “thought of her in that way,” but more as a great friend and supporter of many causes. That tale alone is very like a fairy tale, but who knows, perhaps Gianni lucked out by remaining a great friend/photographer, rather than another of her nine husbands. If you’re keeping count, she wed Burton twice.
But who’s counting?
And yes, Gianni still lives in Wisconsin, down Franklin way. Perhaps it reminds him of Italy. He is said to be working on a new book.
Queen E. was often criticized for her lack of “acting ability,” and personally, it was her earliest work in National Velvet and the Lassie flicks that now strike me as her most natural, and therefore most charming. I guess that’s because they seemed “effortless.” She sparkled with Spencer Tracy (a Milwaukeean) in Father of the Bride, but looked more like a lifeless beauty in many of her other roles. That said, I still watch and re-watch A Place In the Sun, filmed when she wasn’t yet twenty, though the real cheers for that film go to Shelly Winters, who was left in the pregnant lurch by the ladder-climbing cad Montgomery Clift.
And so it was that Ms. Taylor’s life unfolded, more or less parallel to mine. In the 70s I wore dark shades and white turbans. I nurtured being tan year-round. If you wanted to be glam with a capital G, she was the lady to copy. Her image was everywhere and hard to ignore, though I did laugh when I noticed a quote she gave the press about her “legs being too short.” I had the same problem.
And that’s why I never tried out for the girls basketball team, in the long ago back in Iowa.