Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift: A Special But Complicated Friendship Between Two Stars With Tragic Lives

Herbie J Pilato

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According to TownandCountryMag.com, when actor Montgomery Clift discovered who would play his on-screen love interest in the movie, A Place in the Sun, he exclaimed, “Who the heck is Elizabeth Taylor?”

As TownandCountryMag.com continued to report, "The comment was more likely a putdown of the notion of a “Hollywood star” than a real question. It is unlikely he didn’t know who the lovely 17-year-old actress was. Everybody in the country, if not the world, did. Still, in spite of her glamour and fame, a personality like Elizabeth represented everything that he despised about Hollywood. In Monty’s view, she was a commodity rather than a serious actress.

"The director George Stevens knew what she represented. Her image was the reason he chose her for the role. Elizabeth Taylor was 'the girl on a candy box cover'—that’s how the director envisioned the character Angela Vickers. Tempting. Sweet. But with an allure that was capable of corrupting. The kind of woman men dream about but who always seems to remain slightly out of reach. The director even briefly considered naming the movie The Prize, because a girl like Elizabeth, in a young man’s mind, would be just that, the grandest reward of all. He felt that if Elizabeth played Angela opposite Monty’s character, George Eastman, it would make sense that the thought of winning such a girl would be 'staggering as far as his equilibrium is concerned.'"

"Elizabeth was more visible than the publicity-shy Monty," TownandCountry.com documented. "You couldn’t help but come across her photo in any magazine or newspaper. [She always] came across as being poised, beautiful, and somewhat vacuous. She was perfectly posed and perfectly guarded and, it seemed, always camera ready. Monty was the enigmatic one. He equaled Elizabeth in terms of beauty, but he also had mystery. Monty would get star billing."

Assuredly, it was a complicated relationship.

For more about Elizabeth Taylor's friendship with Montgomery Clift, click here.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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