Elizabeth Taylor

Taylor Swift's calculated innocence collides with the Kennedy clan.

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Elizabeth Taylor had nothing to do with music—or, more accurately, nothing to do with the formal standards of technique that traditionalists still conflate with musicality—and that fact has led me to realize something about Frank Sinatra. In all the encomia to Taylor in all the media this week, one of the few aspects of her career spared inflation was her brief and tenuous but illuminating dalliance with theatrical song in the film version of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, produced in 1977.

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This note appears at the end of the New York Times' obituary of Elizabeth Taylor: Mel Gussow, the principal writer of this article, died in 2005. William McDonald and the Associated Press contributed updated reporting. Of course, newspapers keep files on hand of obituaries to run instantly upon their death. Gussow's obituary can be found here.

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National Velvet tells how a twelve-year-old butcher’s daughter, Velvet Brown (Elizabeth Taylor), helped by a vagabond ex-jockey (Mickey Rooney) wins the Grand National steeplechase. It is the best thing to see at the moment, next to another very happy MGM technicolor film, Meet Me in St.

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Through The Years

The Girl Olive Films Heartbreaker IFC Films A film about a child that is not intended to charm us is brave. The Girl, from Sweden, scorns the idea of charm and bravely concentrates on the life of a nine-year-old simply as a life. (We don’t even learn her name.) We are left at the end with a sense of experience, not some sort of benevolence. She is the daughter of a young couple who live in a pleasant country house. They do a sort of social work and are off to Africa on a mission with their daughter. In fact, the first thing we see is the girl getting a vaccination.

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Dead, Man

There was a time when Dennis Hopper exulted in the reputation of being the first kid who knew what was wrong with Hollywood. What he said, more or less, was that the movies have gone dead, man, that it’s just old-timers doing it all on automatic pilot, that there’s no truth, anymore, man, and they won’t put me in lead parts. There was some truth in what he said, and it was certainly the case that a number of veteran directors found Hopper an intolerable smart-ass who said he had known Jimmy--Jimmy Dean--and that what he was saying now was only what Dean would have said.

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The Choke Artist

Jason Zengerle on the inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver—and his critics.

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Los Angeles—In a city that already regards chefs, hairdressers, and lawyers as acceptable playmates, the flowering of yet another exotic social type can’t be regarded as particularly noteworthy. But in Los Angeles this season there’s a new species of personal companion on the rialto that is not only positively orchidaceous but that demonstrates just how chic addiction has become. The hottest companion here is a “disenabler.” A “disenabler” (also known as a “key voice”) is a person who keeps you from doing drugs or from drinking.

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Murray Kempton on the 1964 primary.

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