David Kirby: "My Travels with Elizabeth Taylor"
From our good friend David Kirby's blog. Read the full entry at My Travels with Elizabeth Taylor HERE.
By David Kirby
On a warm June afternoon in 1991, about 800 members of the international press corps were fidgeting impatiently as they waited for Elizabeth Taylor to finally make her grand appearance at the Basel Art Fair in Switzerland. As National Chairwoman of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR), she was to speak about the global AIDS crisis and AmFAR’s auction that night of three major works of art to support research.
As AmFAR’s public information director, I had played this scene many times before. We all knew that Elizabeth (NEVER call her “Liz,” I was admonished on my first day) was not exactly an on-time sort of gal. She knew we would wait, and we always did – happily.
On this particular occasion, the wait was getting uncomfortably long. The press conference had been called for 1:00PM. I begged our Swiss hosts not to begin on time. Instead, they started 15 minutes early. By 1:00PM, the other press conference participants had completed their statements.
There were no questions, just 800 reporters from all over the world glancing at their watches. We waited. The hall was stuffy. People complained. The Italians were indignant, the French were pouty. The Swiss were downright apoplectic.
But not a single grumbling reporter left that hall.
At around 1:20, I called over to the hotel. Sally Morrison, AmFAR’s point person for Elizabeth (and faithful friend and personal publicist for many years) picked up the phone.
“I’m afraid Elizabeth’s just now gotten out of the bath,” Sally said with her British accent. “It’s going to be a while.”
My heart sank into my stomach. I had witnessed Elizabeth’s extraordinary bath-to-motorcade process the day before. It was lengthy, though efficiently executed. I had watched in awe as Elizabeth sat wrapped in a towel at a small vanity brought into her Presidential Suite overlooking the roaring Rhine River. Her husband, Larry Fortensky, was watching CNN.
One person handled her magnificent chestnut mane; another applied makeup around those extraordinary eyes, which up close seemed to be more pale lilac than deep violet. As a third assistant began painting her nails, Elizabeth set down her Richard Burton diamond, a square ice cube, just inches from my face. You don’t forget these moments..
Read the full entry at My Travels with Elizabeth Taylor HERE.
Here's all the AIDS research you need to know:
Posted by: Media Scholar | March 30, 2011 at 07:02 AM
Such heady stuff... Elizabeth Taylor made a HUGE difference in public and personal response to the AIDS crisis. Historic. Thank you, David, for sharing.
Posted by: nhokkanen | March 28, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Mr. Kirby: YOU ROCK!
Posted by: Sylvia | March 28, 2011 at 03:19 PM
She was an amazing person, used her fame to better the world, and way ahead of her time. Thanks for sharing, David.
Posted by: sneaker city | March 28, 2011 at 08:30 AM
Posted by: Holly M. | March 28, 2011 at 07:35 AM