By EW Staff
April 14, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor

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  • Book
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A Passion For Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor Donald Spoto (HarperCollins, $25) Spoto’s exhaustive account of Taylor’s wildly glamorous and troubled life may be the guiltiest pleasure of the year. Her eight marriages provide the perfect chronological context for a book that deftly combines pop-psychological analysis with old (but not uninteresting) industry gossip. According to Spoto, who writes with admirable restraint given the melodramatic nature of his subject, Taylor needed to be dominated by men. Debbie Reynolds, whose husband Eddie Fisher sparked an international scandal in 1958 when he abandoned her for Taylor, describes a knock-down-drag-out fight between Taylor and her third husband, producer Mike Todd, who later tragically died in a plane crash. Woven in and out are the tangled threads of Taylor’s brilliant but uneven career. Spoto notes, correctly, that her portrayal of an anguished alcoholic wife (opposite her greatest love, Richard Burton) in 1966’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? was her last great role. Indeed, an entire generation remembers Taylor mostly as the doyenne of the Betty Ford Center and the best buddy of Michael Jackson, who hosted her last wedding, to working-class hero Larry Fortensky. But A Passion for Life unabashedly restores Taylor to the role that has always suited her best: Hollywood legend with the violet eyes to die for. A- -Meredith Berkman

A Passion for Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor

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