As one of the last of the Real Movie Stars, Elizabeth Taylor never sought out TV stardom. Unlike screen legends such as Henry Fonda or James Stewart, she never attempted her own series. But as befits her beauty, her sense of humor and adventurousness, Taylor did have some memorable TV moments.
Here’s a real prize: Taylor’s only appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1992, talking about how she considered herself “an example of what people can go through and survive… I almost died a couple of times. I’ve read my obituaries and they’re the best reviews I ever had!”
And scope out a much younger Taylor, glowingly lovely as the celebrity “mystery guest” on a What’s My Line? game-show appearance in 1954. The voice she used to disguise her identity is amusingly dorky, and the segment highlights her playfulness:
Most frequently, Taylor didn’t go to television, TV came to her. There was a 1977 CBS All-Star Tribute To Elizabeth Taylor, with encomiums from stars including Paul Newman, Janet Leigh, June Allyson, and Carroll O’Connor. For fun, she appeared three times as Helena Cassadine on a soap opera she liked, General Hospital. Taylor appeared in a number of not-very-special TV-movies, and was the voice of Maggie Simpson in a 1992 Simpsons episode.
(She also appeared as herself in the episode “Krusty Gets Kancelled.”)
A younger generation may know her best for her White Diamonds commercials:
Taylor showed her knack for comedy with Lucille Ball on a 1970 Here’s Lucy episode made during her marriage to Richard Burton:
In her later years, she took to Larry King Live and Barbara Walters specials to discuss everything from her career to her health problems to her friendship with Michael Jackson. Always hovering slightly above the medium of television, Taylor knew how land on it gracefully when the mood suited her.