Liz Smith: Liz Taylor Recovers

And more from our Gossip Girl: Liam Neeson leaps into the “Unknown” … Diana Ross talks, diva to diva, with Oprah.

“WHEN PEOPLE say, ‘She’s got everything’, I have one reply — I haven’t had tomorrow.’”

So said Elizabeth Taylor, who has lived her life always looking toward tomorrow.

* * *

UPDATE ON the star of stars. She remains hospitalized at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She is much improved, but will still probably have to spend her 79th birthday at Cedars on Oscar night, Feb 27.  She’s not minding that. (What, you think there still won’t be a party? And presents? Please, we are talking about Elizabeth Taylor.)

Our Liz is very glad to be alive. I can say now that her condition was indeed “critical.” It was not a stroke or a heart attack, nor was there any “massive internal bleeding” as the most sensational stories insisted. It was a sudden combination of the many ailments that have afflicted her for years, coming together in a dire “perfect storm.”

And yet, to the utter astonishment of her doctors who were not in the least optimistic, ET fought back. Of course, she was helped along by being the rich and famous movie queen, who receives the very best medical care. But if you don’t have the fighting spirit, you are likely to go under. Miss Taylor is not ready to go under. But she herself doesn’t attribute anything unusual to her survival. “I was sick. I got better. Period.”

What a woman.

* * *

IT’S INTERESTING that coming up on 60 (a vigorous 60, to be sure), Liam Neeson has suddenly jumped into the action genre. He had a surprise hit with “Taken,” a tale of a man searching Europe to rescue his daughter who had been kidnapped into sex-slavery. It was ridiculous, but a lot of fun. Liam was a one-man killing machine.

So now he’s back with another hit film in a similar vein, titled “Unknown.” In this one, he wakes from a coma, and all the people he thinks he knows — like his wife — insist they don’t know him at all. (The wife is played by luscious January Jones of “Mad Men” fame.) It’s not quite as much fun as “Taken,” but it’s pretty close. Perhaps it loses something because aspects of it are so derivative of other action/adventure/mystery films. (I won’t tell you which, because that might give away the “surprise ending” of “Unknown.”)

Liam’s gravitas is also a bit at odds with all the leaping and running and car chases and such. Maybe that also adds to the enjoyment. My wonderful friend, Frank Langella, is on hand to lend even more expertise, and Bruno Ganz is very enjoyable, too. Adding to the suspension of disbelief is Diane Kruger as a Berlin taxicab driver who aids our hero. Miss Kruger was not quite ravishing enough as Helen of Troy in “Troy,” but she is far too beautiful to be a hack driver. (She was, as Goldilocks would say, “just right” in the great “Inglorious Basterds.”)

I don’t fault Liam Neeson for tackling a new style of movie. He’s doing it well. But maybe next time, he could pair up with a lady such as, oh — Helen Mirren, Kim Cattrall, Angelica Huston, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sharon Stone, or Angela Bassett. All are fab actresses who are closer in age to Mr. Neeson. (Perhaps the makeup people could let up on the hair dye.)

And all of these aforementioned ladies, I believe, have experience dodging bullets and dashing decoratively hither and thither in thrillers. (Ms. Mirren impressively toted a big automatic weapon in “Red.”)

* * *

TOMORROW ON Oprah, it will be quite a day! The Big O interviews Miss Diana Ross and all five, count ‘em, five, of her children.

Despite Diana’s reputation as a demanding diva, I’ve always liked and admired the star. I never noticed her much-criticized little ways during a time I knew her pretty well, back in the 1970’s. (Maybe she was on her best behavior, but one can only keep the veil up for so long.)

Diana got a bum rap for breaking up the Supremes and running off to have her great solo career. Could she have been “nicer” as she rose to the top under the aegis of mentor/lover Berry Gordy, the Motown mogul? Probably. But it was Diana who was the standout, who had the unique style and voice. And if Flo Ballard or Mary Wilson had been the one to catch Berry’s attentions, they’d have gone quite grand themselves. (And not wept into their champagne over Diana.)

Look, it was fated to be. Diana behaved like a star even when she was called “Diane” just as Barbra did before removing the extra A from her name, and just as Madonna did before … well, Madonna really was her name.

Diana has raised five children, none of whom to my knowledge has been in a lick of trouble, and all of them remain devoted to their mom. I have often said that this tells a lot about the real Miss Ross.

But of course, Diana’s not appearing on Oprah just for the hell of it. She’s launching a tour that will take her from Choctaw, Mississippi to Staten Island, NY. And this woman puts on one hell of an entertaining show!

It will be interesting to see how Oprah handles Diana. Ms. Winfrey herself is a woman with an impressive ego and has her own definite “standards.”

30 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    Regarding Elizabeth Taylor, we have been getting robotic updates from time to time. Most are positive, and then there are the few alien updates that states she is near death, in pain, having surgery. The last update did say that Elizabeth’s initial symptoms were ‘critical’. Though I wonder what treatment is being provided as her length in the hospital is increasing all the time. Monitoring and observation seem to be the explanation for the extended period of time in the hospital. I remember press conferences (especially the 1990 pneumonia bout) that were very detailed…but now, we seem to be given the same statement over and over again.  Many people care out of concern, not sensationalism. So, I take her spokespeople at their word and hope that she recovers, as much as one can recover with years of having CHF.
       Diana Ross has had her day in the sun. No longer being part of Billboards top 100. The ‘very’ occasional film (I’m sure that she picks and chooses the projects to be involved in). We’ve heard the Ross version of the Supreme saga for years. But little about having Berry’s child while married to another man, or her experience with alcohol. I hope that she opens up a bit more on Oprah or it will just be another generic interview. And last, adopting Michael Jackson’s children if Michael’s mother is to become incapacitated (or die). I would like to hear her thoughts about that but, really, how could she refuse?…it’s not as if she will be raising them directly. The nannies will do that. Will she address those issues? Her entire family is appearing on the show, so really…who knows? Liz, a post after the interview will lend a bit more clarity regarding the disclosure of her issues. Like everyone else, she is entitled to her privacy…but it IS her choice to appear on Oprah.  

  2. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    I’m sure Diana was a bitch back in the day.  But I’m also sure she felt she had her “reasons.”  I’ve always loved her music.  Happy I never had to sing behind her, though.

    Miss Taylor–given that her birthday falls on Oscar night I hope soembody has the class to offer her a get well message from the stage.

    • avatar Paul Smith says:

      A severe description for an ambitious, striving, workaholic.  And, correct me if wrong, not one Grammy for her efforts.  Yet the nation became contorted that Justin Bieber was “overlooked”. 

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Paul…12 nominations, not a win.  Tho she did score a Tony Award!

        As I said—and as she has said (and will again on Oprah) she certainly felt she had her reasons for being the strong-minded girl she was.  However, literally being the lover to your boss (and having his child, kinda secretly) couldn’t have endeared her to the industry.  No matter her talent (considerable) her work ethic (major) and her dedication to her craft (impeccable) she was seen as having had her road paved for her, and this impression did not lift even after Berry Gordy was out of her life. 

        I think she’s fabulous.  And she puts on the kind of show fans adore—hits, hits and nothing but the hits.  And twelve costume changes.

        • avatar Richard Bassett says:

           “Endless Love” won an American Music Award. But that doesn’t really count, does it? Diana’s Oscar loss for 1972’s “Lady Sings The Blues” was the biggest slap in the face of her career. I am a Liza Minnelli fan but her win for “Cabaret” was purely political. Diana has talent. Originally, Florence Ballard was to be lead singer for “The Supremes” but her voice (as Mary Wilson’s) just blended into the crowd of black female singers of the times. Diana had her own sound. She developed stage presence as the years passed. I have loved her and The Supremes since 1969. I’ve read the biographies and ever her autobiography, the God awful “Wings of a Sparrow” (or some such thing). People must remember that she was only in her early 20’s when The Supremes ruled the airwaves. For six years, The Supremes were tossed around all over the world. Not a moment for themselves and too young to voice an opinion. Too young for the success that they had achieved. Were their songs Grammy winning? I don’t think so but throughout the 1960’s, the Grammy’s were still very conservative. By the time she came into her own, 1970’s, 1980’s,…when she really deserved the recognition, there were nominations…but no wins. I LOVED her last Billboard charting song, “Chain Reaction” (1985)…because it sounded like a Supremes song. Now, I think that she wants to just coast along, no longer in competition with others in the recording industry. Yes, Berry groomed her for success, was her mentor and her lover…but it was her talent that won the crowds over.

  3. avatar Rho says:

    I hope Elizabeth recovers.  I like her a lot, my thoughts are with her.

  4. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    I have fifth row tickets to see Miss Ross here on Sunday Night!  And then I have second row tickets to see Liza next Thursday Night.  It will be the gayest week my town has ever seen.  Can’t wait!

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Count…do you want to kill me?!!!!  Diana and Liza in one week.  Even Mr. Wow might have to bow out on his gay card. 

      Please tell all.

      • avatar rick gould says:

        I won’t be watching the Oscars this year but I will definitely check your live commentary the next morning, Mr. wOw!
        Was thinking the same thing regarding ET, by the way…
        I just realized the other day, it was 50 years ago before Oscars that Elizabeth nearly died of pneumonia. Which resulted in a tracheotomy and an Oscar!
        I hope she enjoys her 79th birthday and gets home soon.

      • avatar Count Snarkula says:

        BRING your card with you and be my guest!  I know Diana is on Oscar night, but it is an early show and you can blog it after when we watch it on my DVR!  Then…LIZA on Thursday!  Come!  I am totally seriious, come be my guest!!!!

        If you cannot, I will, of course, report ALL!



  5. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    If nothing else Elizabeth Taylor is a good example of “willpower” in our lives –  how many times has she beaten the odds of the doctors themselves?  Her mother was a Christian Scientist and I’ve often wondered if that sense of “resolution” within wasn’t instilled in her by her mother and has kept her going through it all.  Looking forward to the tomorrow she hasn’t had yet.  She’s certainly an inspiration for me at the moment. I’d never had a “near-something experience” until Monday. She’s had quite a few.  Somehow something within I suppose keeps us all going. Perhaps when there’s nothing left to resolve. And today is just enough finally.  

    Maybe she will “tune in” to wowOwow on Sunday and we can all wish her a Happy Birthday.

    • avatar Count Snarkula says:

      I have been worried about you Baby.  I am so sorry about Monday.  Know that I am sending you every good thought and wish.  We need you here and healthy.  XOXO CS

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        I really do try live for the day.  It really is all any of us have. It’s a healthy attitude and a healthy approach to life.   But the thought that “this day” may be your last so to speak is quite terrifying. And don’t let anyone tell you that it isn’t.   Even with “absolute faith.” 

        The thought that “this moment” might be your last is even more terrifying as I discovered on Monday. Something I suspect Elizabeth Taylor knows well.  But , well, she’s still here and I’m still here.  For today anyway. And for the moment anyway.

        I remember in the beginning of the AIDS crisis I sent her a note. Something about how perhaps AIDS would teach us to accept and love each other somehow. And I believe she more than anyone else has done just that.  She has taught us to accept and love each other.  That really is her legacy.  The logo for her foundation is so “her” in that way. The two hands reaching out to the other within the heart. 

        I suppose I shouldn’t take pot shots. I suspect she has taken pot shots as well.  In the end, her heart is always in the right place as they say. As is mine.   All that matters.

        • avatar Mr. Wow says:

          Baby…you know we’re all pulling for you here.  We love you. 

          Mr. W.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            Well I am real big on “spreading smiles” as I’ve mentioned before.  Nothing cures the blues like smiling at someone and having them smile back. Which they always do.  The one nurse smiled at me on Monday. While the other one ran for cover. I smiled back.  And whatever it was passed. My concern is it didn’t completely pass.

            It may be a Piscean thing. So maybe some nurse walks in on Elizabeth Taylor and smiles. And she smiles back.  And whatever it is passes. Even if it doesn’t completely pass.   I love you all too.  Although there is something pathological about loving people you don’t know. Fortunately I don’t have the money to go run to a psychiatrist to psychoanalyze it.  Psychiatrists love Pisceans. 

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

             I have no idea about the nature of your malady but I (like everyone else here) wish you a speedy recovery.

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            I have no idea either and not sure the doctors do beyond the emphysema which in the beginning was a “catch-all” for everything else.  I try to stay positive and at one point suggested we do a remake of Fantastic Voyage and miniaturize everyone and just inject them all so they could get a better look at everything and then got claustrophobic thinking about it. 

            I had to navigate from the private health care system to the public health care system. I have finally gotten comfortable in saying “we will” which is what I did Monday.  “We will continue the test with me sitting up.” I should have said “We will not do the test” when the doctor told me the one drug sometimes causes a “small” heart attack. A heart attack is a heart attack.  

            I am not sure what the drug, or drugs, there were two of them and she didn’t tell me what the other one “sometimes” does or does not do, did or did not do. All I know is it did something it wasn’t supposed to do.  I also know they should have allowed me to rest after the treadmill. And didn’t.

            Someone commented at one point that the leading cause of death in this country is doctors.  I suspect she is right. Forewarned is forearmed!

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

              Well, if they are diagnosing emphysema then it falls under the category of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and they seem to be ruling everything else out. Sometimes, COPD manifests itself in asthma, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia and, yes, congestive heart failure (as well as emphysema). They are focusing on your heart…as that precludes everything else. One exam (a bit uncomfortable) is a bronchogramwhere a tube is orally inserted into your lungs and they can make a confirmatory diagnosis on what they see. Bronchoscopy (the same procedure but with a camera), does the same thing. Medications and nebulizers are, also, prescribed. Love you, and, of course…wish for the best!

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            My heart is, or was, fine. Before the test. The test was ordered on the basis of arrythmias on a ECG during one of the intiial “general exams” which I didn’t know until after the fact. No one bothered to ask me about caffeine. I drink, or drank, about a gallon of coffee every morning.  Followed by a gallon or two of iced tea during the day. Am cutting down on both.  Decaffeinated is not so good for you either. Particularly decaffeinated tea. Which for some reason causes elevated “bad” cholesterol levels.  The doctor said she “thought” she asked me about caffeine. I say fine but of course with COPD it’s not fine. But relatively fine.

            My lungs, at least on the CAT scans, are a mess. They are hesitant to do any type of invasive anything at this point. I have another CAT scan in May. Then, possibly.  Most likely a fine needle biopsy.

            One possibility as a “contributing factor” may be mycotoxins caused by mold exposure.  The pulmonary people always ask about “possible exposure” but mold is never on the list for some reason.  I suspect, to be honest, because of pressure from the insurance  industry.   It’s of particular concern to anyone with COPD or any type of weakened immune system.  The two most dangerous molds are the two most common.  One called aspergilllus and the other a penicillium mold.  Until I know for sure there are no bronchodialtors particularly those that are corticosteroid-based which mycotoxins for some reason love. I avoid drugs wherever possible. Mainly because every day there is another email in my spam box about another class-action lawsuit about another FDA-approved drug that turned out to be not-so-safe despite the FDA stating it was. The FDA maintained that Darvon was safe after the British pulled it having determined it was not safe. The FDA of course just recently pulled Darvon as well. I hope, to be honest, that someone sues the FDA over it. Hope and change? We need an FDA that does not bend to pressure from the pharmaceutical companies. We also need a health care system that does not bend to pressure from the insurance industry.  We are still one of the best countries in the world to live. With one of the worst health care systems.

            I am beginning to change my diet and part of that is the doctors themselves. My primary care physician, as internists for some mysterious reason are now called, is a vegan.  I have had to look at diet as a cause for many things. And possibly a cure.  There is something to “natural medicine” simply because many of the compounds in the prescription drugs are found in nature. Without all the componds that are found in the prescription drugs. Some of which in the end are not safe and never were. 

            No more sugar.  Honey only. Slowly I will switch to unfiltered honey. And high fructose corn syrup is dangerous. All sugar is not the same.  Try reading the labels as you shop in the grocery store. It’s in everything!  Despite the clear proof per a UCLA study that it is carcinogenic.  We are killing ourselves every day in the kitchen. 

            And the air. I live in a city with increasing rates of asthma among adults who never smoked. And never had asthma. But suddenly do. 

            I’ve had a wake-up call. Hopefully it didn’t come too late. But we are all having a wake-up call.  Time to get back to the premise that public interest is above the special interest. 

            They had a “sampler party” yesterday at the grocery store. Those wonderful “jumbo” Gulf shrimp I used to love. They just confirmed that the bulk of the oil didn’t dissipate. It settled.  And is sitting at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. Poisoning the Gulf of Mexico and everything that lives in it. And us in turn.  Along with the dispersants used to disperse the oil. Which didn’t disperse it.  Despite being told it had dispersed it. I will never eat anything from the Gulf of Mexico again. Most people would be wise to do the same. But most won’t. Believing the government has said it was safe and so it must be safe. It may not matter to me if I do or don’t. But by not buying it or eating it I am making a statement. It is not safe.

            Part of the problem with the high fructose corn syrup may be that it is “genetically modified” as in genetically altered. The corn itself probably is so it is twice “modified.” That is alarming quite a few scientists. Not only corn but rice and grains. Which may in turn be “genetically modifying” us.  And our children who are born with our “new” DNA. 

            But at some point it may prove convenient to have four arms and four legs. No doubt someone will claim that it is. Probably the head of Monsanto. Who himself, or herself, may also have two heads. 

  6. avatar annee says:

    Dear Baby. I think you should be the leader of the group you will found, which is supportive  of
    us survivors.  It’s really tough when m.d.’s give you their opinion and you know that even some of some of us, who are in their 7th decade, really have excellent attitudes and feel  30 years younger
    I” d like to add the AA morning prayer for all  of us.  
    Thankyou God for the wonderful day I’m going to have,  when I change my f—— attitude.
    I’m,about half cynical but just being mindful  enough to say it ,works

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Well I was certainly not a silent victim in two stalking situations and have no intention of being a silent victim of our deplorable health care system. One of the worst “explanations” of why I am able to walk 2 or more miles a day despite half my lungs, per two CAT scans, being gone was that I was “used to it.” Not that I am really a very rational person, my heart is always in the right place but my brain is usually “missing in action,”  but most rational people would wonder about that “explanation.” Makes no sense as they say.  And some of the diagnostic tests really don’t “match” the diagnosis.  Most would just say “oh” and give up. Not me.  I will not go willingly so to speak. None of us should.  I suspect Elizabeth Taylor among others would agree.

      One of the problems is two years ago I switched from cigarettes to little cigars so I puff instead of smoke.  And by not inhaling, I have changed the way I breathe.  Don’t try to explain that to a pulmonary specialist.  It’s not in the book so to speak.  So it doesn’t register in their brain.  I managed to bring my blood pressure down and maintain it simply by walking. We breathe differently when we walk.  They actually sell a little machine that changes the way you breathe. And does indeed lower blood presure.  Walking is cheaper and much more pleasant.  People who practice yoga will understand about the breathing. 

      Attitude is all, Annee, and AA is wonderful for maintaining the attitude! I tried the “I will not have a cigarette today” once. It worked about as well as everything else including hypnosis!

  7. avatar Pdr de says:

    Saw part of the movie “Ivanhoe” today with Elizabeth Taylor – she had to be in her young 20’s when that movie was made.  She was stunningly, breathtakingly beautiful.  Those violet colored eyes and raven hair as well as her perfect complexion.  In my opinion, she was one of the most beautiful women anywhere. She has entertained us well over the years. I wish her well.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      She was just about twenty.

      And today, Sunday is her 79th birthday.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        All together now “Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you, happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday to you dearest Elizabeth.”  I’m so sure she’s sitting in Cedars-Sinai reading wowOwow on her laptop. but, well, you never know.  

      • avatar Richard Bassett says:

         Made in the summer of 1951, “Ivanhoe” was made in England. Elizabeth was 19. It was made during her romance with Michael Wilding (who was also dating Marlene Dietrich, as well). Her studio had sent her to England to end the romance between Elizabeth and the married (though separated) Stanley Donen, after Donen’s wife (Jeanne Donen) sued him for alienation of affection in a suit divorce. She stated that there was another woman in his life…but didn’t name Elizabeth directly. Such started a pattern in Elizabeth’s life. Donen was sent to Hawaii.  Many say it was Elizabeth’s mother, Sarah, who urged MGM to send her to England. On top of everything else, Stanley was Jewish!!! A scandal!!! The film was released in 1952. Happy 79th to Elizabeth Taylor.

        • avatar Pdr de says:

          …and in the movie, Ivanhoe, Elizabeth played a Jewish woman – truth is stranger than fiction. A lot of younger people have no idea how difficult it was for Jews to find jobs, join country clubs, etc. in the 50’s and 60’s, all those many years ago.  While the discrimination wasn’t as bad as it was for African Americans, it was very bad indeed.
          Anyway, back to Elizabeth – Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!  Your star will always shine!

      • avatar Pdr de says:

        Yes and I’m 7 years younger than she.  I idolized her as a child – first saw her in “Lassie Come Home” – wondered how any child could be that lovely!  I wonder what her life would have been like if she’d never been “discovered”.  Don’t know that she had a lot of happiness – more turmoil than anything else.
        Mr. Wow, spring is just around the corner.  Hope your depression will life with the appearance of the first daffodil or tulip!  I know how difficult it is to deal with and unfortunately, there’s plenty of grist for the mill when it comes to things to be depressed about!  Take care!

  8. avatar rick gould says:

    On You Tube, you can watch many of those great TCM tributes one star does to another.
    This one was by Paul Newman to Elizabeth Taylor, done not long before he died. It sums up very much the things I admire about Taylor. Specifically, he discusses the beginning of their friendship on Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and his admiration for her performance, given under the most trying of circumstances.
    Here’s the link:
    Shortly after filming began, Mike Todd died in a plane crash (which she was supposed to be on, too) leaving her bereft…and a infant child and in monumental debt.
    Taylor was back on the set two weeks later.
    And gave one of the best performances of her career.
    So when I read about the likes of Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen, I can only laugh.
    I hope ET enjoys her day and hope she makes 80!

  9. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    I love the fact that Liam has poured himself into his work and is making movies back to back following the death of his beautiful wife that I loved.
    If you are reading this Liam, I’m single and available to help make life easier for you. 😀