World media pay tribute to film's "last goddess"

Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:11pm EDT
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Elizabeth Taylor was given a glowing send-off on Thursday by the world's media, which hailed her as "Hollywood's last goddess."

Photographs of the violet-eyed beauty vied for space on newspaper front pages with Britain's budget and the crises in Japan and Libya, while obituaries and tributes united in their praise of an actress who embodied movie star glamour.

The Oscar-winning star of "Cleopatra" and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday after a long battle with congestive heart failure that sent her to the hospital six weeks ago. She was 79.

"Liz: farewell to Hollywood's last goddess" was the headline on the Daily Mirror tabloid in Taylor's native Britain.

It produced a special tribute pullout full of photographs of the screen siren, from childhood and early movie roles like "Lassie Come Home" to her best-known performances, many marriages and later years of fluctuating weight and ill health.

Veteran film columnist Donald Zec, who met many of Hollywood's leading stars as a journalist, called Taylor "showbusiness's most spectacular survivor.

"Her life was an endless battle against obesity, alcohol, and several frightening near death encounters where everybody had given up -- except Liz Taylor," he wrote.

"Twice I was hauled off a golf course to write her obituary only for the patient to emerge from a coma, flutter her eyelashes, and ask for champagne."   Continued...

<p>Flowers, photographs and notes from fans adorn the Hollywood Walk of Fame star of actress Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood, March 23, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>