Cover image for The most beautiful woman in the world : the obsessions, passions, and courage of Elizabeth Taylor
The most beautiful woman in the world : the obsessions, passions, and courage of Elizabeth Taylor
Amburn, Ellis.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperLargePrint, [2000]

Physical Description:
xvii, 636 pages (large print) : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
PN2287.T18 A43 2000B Adult Large Print Large Print

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Frequently the target of scandalous tabloid headlines, Elizabeth Taylor's love affairs and failed marriages have captured the attention of the American public for almost half a century. Just when we thought we knew everything about this American screen siren, Ellis Amburn blows the lid off of some of Hollywood's best-kept secrets. In The Most Beautiful Woman in the World, he taps into unexplored primary sources to expose the tragedies and triumphs of Taylor's life, including the successful removal of a golf-ball-sized brain tumor, the launching of a fragrance line that took off like a rocket, breaking her back twice in two years, and her relationship with Rod Steiger, who lured her back to life from a nervous breakdown. Amburn also reveals Taylor's tragic and heartbreaking affection for Montgomery Clift and James Dean; Taylor's disastrous marriage to the abusive and philandering Nicky Hilton, who abandoned Liz on their honeymoon to be with another woman; cunning Eddie Fisher, who forced Liz toappear at his Las Vegas shows in order to bring in capacity crowds; and Richard Burton's homosexual activities and his exploitation of Taylor.

Author Notes

Ellis Amburn was born in Texas on August 2, 1933. He graduated from Texas Christian University in 1954. He worked as a reporter-researcher at Newsweek before becoming a book editor at Putnam, where he edited John le Carré and Jack Kerouac. Amburn was also an editor-in-chief at Delacorte and William Morrow. He worked as a ghostwriter with Priscilla Presley, Shelley Winters, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Sammy Davis, Jr. He wrote several biographies including Buddy Holly: A Biography, Dark Star: The Roy Orbison Story, The Sexiest Man Alive: A Biography of Warren Beatty, Subterranean Kerouac, and Pearl: The Obsessions and Passions of Janis Joplin. He died after a long illness on August 18, 2018 at the age of 85.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Elizabeth Taylor's life and 50-plus-year career have been scrutinized and analyzed in hundreds of articles and books. Although Amburn did plenty of interviews (500 by his count) in preparation for this contribution to the Taylor bookshelf, his sources weren't Taylor's close friends but rather those in her outer orbit. Nevertheless, he manages to get plenty personal, including details of Taylor's hemorrhoid surgery. If Amburn has an underlying theme, it's the profound effect that gay men have had on Taylor's life, starting with her father. Her relationships with some of those men, including Roddy McDowell, Rock Hudson, and Montgomery Clift, are well known, but Amburn adds a few new names to the list. Husband number two, Michael Wilding, gets tagged as bisexual, as does Richard Burton (in one scene, he's on his way to Eddie Fisher's house!). Not to worry, Taylor manages to have plenty of sex despite so many platonic relationships, and Ambrun takes time to chronicle much of it. He seems to run out of pages by the end, though, and must stuff his last chapters with perfume, Fortensky, brain tumors, and Michael Jackson. A quick, dishy read. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

In one of the most salacious Hollywood chronicles in recent memory, Amburn has pieced together a page-turning account of Taylor's life from an overwhelming number of interviews, autobiographies and gossip columns. According to the author, Taylor's relationship with Richard Burton was complicated by the couple's alcoholism and physical abuse of each other, her pill taking and his overwhelming distress over his homosexual impulses, which drove him to drink. If their relationship weren't already doomed, Amburn reports, Burton's former lover Lawrence Olivier also tried to break the two up. Not only do we learn who slept with whom (the liaisons are too numerous to recount here) but there is also a wealth of speculation about the shape and firmness of Taylor's breasts, the size of Eddie Fisher's penis and the length of Montgomery Clift's foreskin. Short on startling insights, Amburn makes up for it with generous helpings of sexual details and Tinseltown gossip: Stewart Granger and Michael Wilding (Taylor's second husband) were lovers; Fisher mainlined methamphetamines; Maria Callas tried to snatch Burton from Taylor at a fancy dinner party. This superficial drive-through tour of Taylor's romantic life--she was once dubbed "the other woman of the year" by wit Oscar Levant--more than surpasses its goal to titillate. Photos not seen by PW. Agent, Al Lowman. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Despite headlines of failed marriages and drug addictions, Elizabeth Taylor remains a much-loved public idol symbolizing the grace and beauty of an earlier film era. Amburn, an accomplished biographer of many celebrities, including Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison, leaves no stone unturned in this detailed retelling of Liz's life and loves. He interviewed more than 500 directors, actors, and friends of the actress to create this intimate portrait of the actress, from her role in National Velvet through her tireless work on behalf of AIDS research. The usual characters appearD husbands Eddie Fisher and Richard Burton and friends like Michael Jackson. Amburn's work serves to update the two excellent Taylor biographies already availableDC. David Heymann's Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor (LJ 5/15/95) and Donald Spoto's A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor (Macmillan. 1995, reprint)Dand is sure to be popular in public libraries. Recommended for popular collections.DKelli Perkins, Herrick Dist. Lib., Holland, MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.