Elizabeth Taylor: Star Rising

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At 17, 5 ft. 4½ in., 112 Ibs., Elizabeth Taylor is a great beauty. She is a perfect type of the Black Irish. She has heavy black hair and brows that are also black and thick, but not a whit too thick to frame her large, luxuriantly lashed blue eyes, which darken into violet in the least shadow. Her complexion has been described by an ecstatic publicity man as "a bowl of cream with a rose floating in it." Cameramen have paid her Hollywood's ultimate compliment to beauty: "She doesn't have a bad angle."

A Burning Glass. In Hollywood, which has long since proved its theory that even a flea can be taught to act a little, Elizabeth Taylor is a sure star of the future. Never has there been a time of such opportunity. For as age has dulled dozens of bright stars, custom has staled scores more. The public — though still attentive to such screen personalities as Robert Taylor, Hedy Lamarr, Errol Flynn, Irene Dunne, Greer Garson, Myrna Loy, Walter Pidgeon, Mickey Rooney, Loretta Young — no longer rushes by the millions to see a picture merely because one of them is in it.

There is, of course, a big nucleus of still-bright stars like Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Betty Grable, Gregory Peck, Esther Williams, Linda Darnell, Tyrone Power, Jimmy Stewart, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine. But the public, according to experienced Hollywoodsmen, is scanning the marquees for new names.

Twentieth Century-Fox's Darryl Zanuck recently decreed that they want good stories, too. In the last few years, many studios have tried hard to get better screen stories, and the result has been surprising. Moviegoers, the exhibitors contend, have noticed that the stories are better, but they have reacted far more strongly to the performers. Many of these actors were young not-too-hopefuls who got their parts mainly because movie business was bad last year and the studios were glad to use inexpensive-talent. Suddenly the public gaze converged on them like sunlight through a burning glass, and their names blazed into lights.

Hot Rocks. One of the likeliest of these newcomers is Montgomery Clift, sometimes called "the hottest thing in Hollywood." Clift, 28, earned fine reviews on Broadway in The Skin of Our Teeth and The Searching Wind before he went to Hollywood. There he refused long-term contracts, picked scripts shrewdly. Last year, in his first two pictures — M-G-M's The Search and Howard Hawks's Red River — his good acting and good looks clicked immediately.

Another sizzling hot rock is Kirk Douglas, who began his theatrical career as a carnival wrestler, moved on to Broadway before he went to Hollywood in 1945. In his eighth picture, Champion, Douglas was poisonously perfect in the cobra-cold title role. Warner promptly signed him to a seven-year contract for nine pictures at about $125,000 a picture.

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