Saturday, May 05, 2012

Screen Gem Saturdays: Snow White & Elizabeth Taylor

I just added a third image to my collection from Elizabeth Taylor's January 21, 1959 visit to Disneyland. Unfortunately, those old news wire photos aren't the best quality. Still, it's a chance to see the loading queue for the Snow White attraction. From the vintage publicity blurb:

ANAHEIM, Calif., Jan. 21—LIZ AND EDDIE AT DISNEYLAND WITH KIDS—Elizabeth Taylor and boy friend Eddie Fisher hold her children by her marriage to actor Michael Wilding as they begin one of the fantasy rides during an outing at Disneyland today. The boys are Michael (left), 6, and Christopher, 4.

The other photos I have show Elizabeth enjoying the Alice attraction:

as well as some tasty Disneyland popcorn:

Like her friend Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor never grew tired of Disneyland. Her private bash at Disneyland celebrating her 60th birthday in 1992 made national headline news. Imagine having Disneyland open to only you and your closest friends. Now THAT'S clout. I can only imagine how much that set her back.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Elizabeth Taylor swooped into Disneyland in a horse-drawn white carriage Thursday night as hundreds of her Hollywood friends turned out to salute a "survivor" on her 60th birthday.

The woman who grew up on screen before the rapt eyes of generations of Americans transformed Disneyland's Fantasyland into a movie extravaganza with hundreds of celebrities, extraordinary security and lights that turned night into day.

Trumpet fanfares and flashing strobe lights greeted the celebrities who preceded her to Sleeping Beauty's castle. Disney characters escorted everyone from Henry Winkler to Cheryl Tiegs, Gregory Peck to Tom Selleck. A blond Delta Burke, accompanied by her husband, Gerald McRaney, called Taylor "strong and soft . . . witty and clever, intelligent . . . a fighter."

Disneyland officials barred the press from the event, but beamed their own videotape of the festivities onto satellite for waiting television stations. It gave the public another glimpse of the woman who starred in "National Velvet" at age 12, won two Oscars and married seven men, one of them twice. Along the way she battled a host of illnesses and addictions to painkillers.

"This is a private party and the sky is the limit," said a Disney spokeswoman. No one would say how much it cost to fete the hundreds of invited guests, but the normal $8,000 charge to rent the park after hours clearly was only the starting point. Although corporations have staged parties at Disneyland in the past, Taylor was the first individual to rent it, a park spokesman said.

Songwriter Carol Bayer Sager, one of the party organizers, said she "wanted to just throw a party where Elizabeth could have fun. She has brought a lot of love into my life."

Her longtime friend, Roddy McDowallbeamed as he arrived and said, "It's wonderful to be here to celebrate a survivor."

JonVoight, wearing a white Lakers jacket, said: "I remember her when 'National Velvet' came out and I fell in love with her. She means so much to us."

Rod McKuen said he wrote a song as his gift to Taylor, but wouldn't say more because it's "a very private thing." Actor John Forsythe said the gift from him and his wife was a donation to the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the charity for which Taylor has raised money.

Shirley MacLaine, who arrived with journalist Carl Bernstein, said Taylor has been "the most long-lasting star on the firmament and I know about that cosmic stuff. . . . I'm here in celebration of what has been a fantasy life."

Times columnist Liz Smith, who attended the party, gave this report as events began to unfold:

"Disneyland was just spectacular. Sleeping Beauty's Castle was decorated with columns of lavender and gold balloons. Vintage cars carried the guests. Trumpets sounded as each alighted.

"Security was rigid but the atmosphere was warm, informal and childlike.

"Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky arrived at 9:30. She was wearing sparkling cowboy boots and black quilted jacket with sprays of sequins, and he was wearing a black leather jacket and brown cowboy boots. Mickey Mouse took her arm as she got out and walked with her."

Want to know what happened to her outfit from that celebration?

See more vintage & current Snow White attraction photos on my Snow White web page.


K. Martinez said...

Nice early photos of Elizabeth Taylor and family enjoying Disneyland. I'd assume her private party in 1992 was good publicity for the Park. She certainly was a beautiful woman, both inside and out.

TokyoMagic! said...

Wow, it's been 20 years and now she's gone. Time goes by so quickly. I think I've mentioned this before, but I work down the street from DL and remember seeing many of the motel signs in the area wishing Elizabeth Taylor a happy birthday that day.

Everyone looks so young in that video! Shirley MacLaine said she'd be on another planet for her 60th! Ha! She was only two years away from 60 at that time.

Connie Moreno said...

What a great post! I love the photos, too. I remember wondering just how rich I'd have to be to have Disneyland for a private party!

Major Pepperidge said...

I have one of the pinback buttons produced for Liz's 60th at Disneyland!