Capote on Marilyn, Elizabeth

In tribute to Elizabeth Taylor, The Telegraph has published a 1974 essay by Truman Capote on the great star. He made some interesting references to Marilyn as well:

‘At this point I recalled a conversation I’d once had with Marilyn Monroe (not that I’m making a comparison between Taylor and Monroe; they were different birds, the first being a take-or-leave-it professional, the other a morbidly uncertain, naturally gifted primitive). But Monroe’s moral attitude was similar: “I don’t believe in casual sex. Right or wrong, if I go for a guy, I feel I ought to marry him. I don’t know why. Stupid, maybe. But that’s just the way I feel. Or if not that, then it should have meaning. Other than something only physical. Funny, when you think of the reputation I have. And maybe deserve. Only I don’t think so. Deserve it, I mean. People just don’t understand what can happen to you. Without your real consent at all. Inside consent.” ‘

Another, lesser-known quality that Elizabeth shared with Marilyn was a love of literature:

‘The second surprise was how well-read Taylor seemed to be – not that she made anything of it, or posed as an intellectual, but clearly she cared about books and, in haphazard style, had absorbed a large number of them. And she discussed them with considerable understanding of the literary process…’

Capote concludes that Monroe, Taylor, and Judy Garland, despite their differences, were all risk-taskers:

‘… Not like Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland, both of whom had yearned to go over the horizon, some darker rainbow, and before succeeding, had attempted the voyage innumerable times. And yet there was some common thread between these three, Taylor, Monroe, Garland – I knew the last two fairly well, and yes, there was something. An emotional extremism, a dangerously greater need to be loved than to love, the hotheaded willingness of an incompetent gambler to throw good money after bad.’

‘Elizabeth Taylor’ is also published in A Capote Reader, alongside Capote’s portrait of Marilyn, ‘A Beautiful Child’.

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