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Elizabeth Taylor: A Life Reflected in Violet Eyes

Exclusive: Grace Kendall, Star of Award-Winning Elizabeth Taylor Biopic “DAME,” Joins LA Explained as Guest Blogger!

At LA Explained, our love for the golden era of Hollywood runs deep. We're captivated by the glamour, the legends, and the timeless stories that have shaped the entertainment industry. It's with great excitement that we welcome Grace Kendall, the talented star of the award-winning Elizabeth Taylor biopic "DAME," to share her insights and experiences with us as a guest blogger, and dive into some of the most iconic moments as seen through the iconic eyes of none other than Dame Elizabeth Taylor. 

Written by and starring Grace Kendall as Elizabeth Taylor, "DAME" has garnered several awards and holds the distinction of being the first Elizabeth Taylor biopic to qualify for an Academy Award. Grace's exceptional performance in the film has been recognized with honors such as Best Actress at the Chelsea Film Festival and the prestigious Jury Prize at the Key West Film Festival just to name a few. 

In "DAME," Grace brings to life a poignant portrayal of a lost and grieving Elizabeth Taylor, returning to the set of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" following the tragic death of her husband, Mike Todd. Inspired by her own journey of overcoming adversity after a severe accident, Grace beautifully captures the theme of triumph of hope over doubt and despair in this heartfelt cinematic tribute to the Hollywood legend.

Like all great love stories and Hollywood endings, it's often the things left unsaid that speak the loudest. Join us as Grace unveils some of the most iconic moments in Elizabeth’s life, including the photo that inspired her to write the film, which is now streaming on Prime Video!

Be sure to Sign up for our newsletter today for a chance to score an exclusive invite to the Hollywood Screening of the Film!

Take it away, Grace!



I’m thrilled to be guest blogging for the LA Explained community, thank you for having me!

Since I was a young girl, I’ve been captivated by Old Hollywood and the Golden Age of cinema – the films and the fashion. Is there a star who reflects the glamor of this time more than our very own Hollywood royalty: Elizabeth Taylor? Elizabeth Taylor is iconic and probably the biggest movie star who ever lived. She was also a deeply sensitive woman who was committed to becoming a better artist and human. When I look at pictures of Elizabeth, I’m not just drawn in by her glamour; I’m intrigued by the stories we haven’t heard, and the woman she was behind the scenes.

The pictures in this list reflect a life well-lived (and hard earned), filled with resilience and dignity. We see Elizabeth through the camera lens, and also her own violet eyes (or blue, depending on who you ask). Hollywood has a way of forcing a perspective on everything; I want the true stories, not the headlines.

One of the stories that speaks to me the most is from the third image of Elizabeth below, when she was on her way to the funeral of her husband, Mike Todd. Mike was tragically killed in a plane crash in 1958 when Elizabeth was shooting, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” She was given only a couple of weeks off, and then had to return to set to resume filming. The film “Cat” explored themes of loss and love, which mirrored Elizabeth’s real-life tragedy unfolding off-screen. Her character “Maggie the Cat,” is fighting for her life, like Elizabeth was. I had never heard this story before, even though I had seen the film many times. 

When Elizabeth was with Mike Todd, she felt protected for the first time in her life and when Mike was killed it was as if the world had abandoned her. Elizabeth’s profound courage inspired me to make the short film DAME, streaming now on Prime Video which tells the true story of her return after Mike’s death. 

DAME captures one moment in Elizabeth’s life that gives a complete understanding of her strength and vulnerability. The images in this list expand on her story. When I look at these pictures I don’t see a movie star, I see a Goddess who happens to be human.

Here are images of Dame Elizabeth, and what they say to me. What do they say to you?


Grace Kendall


Picture #1: Taylor on her first wedding day when she was just 18 years old - 5/6/1950. She married Conrad “Nicky” Hilton - heir to the Hilton Hotels fortune - at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. I love the artistry and craftsmanship of her dress and veil that was designed by costume designer Helen Rose. It reminds me of the care and love that went into fashion from that era.  Photo from LIFE Magazine.

Picture #2:  I love the JOY of this photo of Elizabeth when she was just 12 years old. This was the same year as her first starring role (in National Velvet with Mickey Rooney). She and her family lived on Elm Dr. in Beverly Hills throughout the 1940s (that's 703 N Elm in the background). I imagine riding a bike was an act of freedom for Elizabeth when she was a child. (Is her pet squirrel Nibbles in the basket?) Photo by Peter Stackpole.

Picture #3: This is Elizabeth leaving through the side entrance of her home she shared with husband Mike Todd on Schuyler Rd. in Beverly Hills. Todd had just died in a plane accident and she was on her way to his funeral in Chicago. She was in a great deal of physical and emotional pain, beyond words. I think about her tremendous courage in this moment, and that even in the depths of her grief she was still holding herself with dignity. She also carried the burden of being the most famous woman in the world. This image shows Elizabeth’s strength and vulnerability as a Goddess who is human. Photo from the USC Archives.

Picture #4: Already a star by the time of the 1945 photo, here she is at Gilmore Stadium signing autographs. This image of Elizabeth interacting with a fan is sweet and endearing. She is so young, and yet has already achieved worldwide fame as Velvet Brown in National Velvet. Here I am reminded of how young she was when her career skyrocketed. Photo by Peter Stackpole.

Picture #5: Elizabeth Taylor presenting her ankle at UCLA ca. 1949/1950 (with the Powell Library in the distance). This was around the time that UCLA student Bob Precht won a contest sponsored by the film The Great Lover to take Taylor to UCLA’s junior prom. Photo from the Mondadori Portfolio.

Picture #6: On the Paramount lot with Montgomery Clift during a break from filming A Place in the Sun - 1950. This is a beautiful image of friendship. Though Elizabeth famously had never taken a formal acting class, she credited Monty with teaching her how to act. Monty was Elizabeth’s first great love. Photo by Peter Stackpole.

Picture #7: Taylor and husband Eddie Fisher at the legendary Chasen’s - 1959. This was one of Elizabeth’s favorite restaurants - she loved their chili and would have it flown around the world when she was shooting or living outside of Los Angeles. Photo from the UCLA Archives.

Photo #8:   Los Angeles isn’t known to be as fashionable as New York or London, but I love this image because it shows Elizabeth in 70s iconic fashion–an LA gal on the go–colorful, comfortable, and some stylish sunnies in Beverly Hills in 1970. Photo by Ron Galella.

Picture #9: And she certainly loved her jewelry... Elizabeth at the very height of her beauty and fame. Here she is presenting Best Oscar at the 1970 Academy Awards at the Chandler Pavilion, wearing the famous 69.42-carat Taylor-Burton diamond. What people don’t know about this picture is that she was very upset because her husband Richard Burton had just been snubbed. Despite this, she remained a true professional, a movie star in her power. Photo from the Hollywood Reporter.

Picture #10: Taylor and David Bowie at director George Cukor's home in Beverly Hills - 1975. This picture is iconic for many reasons. It’s the first, and I believe the only time that Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor met. This is one in a series of photos taken just after Bowie arrived after having made Elizabeth wait for almost two hours. The story is that Bowie was running late, and nobody was late for Elizabeth, so she almost left. I love these pictures because it shows her playful side, and her command. Photo by Terry O’Neill.

Picture #11: This was the night that Mike Todd won the Academy Award for “Around the World in 80 Days” in September 1968. He told the press that he had won the two greatest prizes you could win: the Academy Award, and Elizabeth Taylor. Elizabeth was also pregnant with their daughter, Liza Todd. I love how happy and Queenly she is, and there’s a sadness too…because sadly Mike would die the next year. Photo by Saul Swimmer

Picture #12: This is one of my favorite pictures. This is behind the scenes of “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” shot at MGM in 1958. The infamous white slip. Here we can also see Elizabeth in her sexuality, and her effortless power. Photo is a wardrobe department still from the film.


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