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Elizabeth Taylor, 5, poses with her mother Sara, 1937.

Actress Elizabeth Taylor had stunning beauty. She was such a gorgeous little girl that, when people would see her for the first time, they would gasp in astonishment, staring at her sapphire eyes wreathed in thick black lashes and the shiny black hair framing her porcelain face.  “What a pretty child !” they would exclaim, prompting the well-rehearsed Elizabeth to curtsey and smile.

Elizabeth Taylor in "Lassie Come Home," 1943.

But Elizabeth was not always gorgeous, said her mother, Sara Taylor, a former stage actress. She considered Elizabeth to be quite an ugly baby when born in London on February 27, 1932.

Sara Taylor cradles her newborn daughter, the future movie queen Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

At first glance at her newborn, Sara was repulsed:

“As the precious bundle was placed in my arms, my heart stood still. There inside the cashmere shawl was the funniest-looking baby I had ever seen. Her hair was long and black. Her ears were covered with thick black fuzz, and inlaid into the sides of her head….”(1)

Baby Elizabeth’s arms, shoulders, and back were covered with a thick downy pelt called lanugo, not uncommon in newborns.

“The infant looked like a little monkey,” remembered Viennese art dealer and family friend Ernest Lowy. (2)

Compounding the problem, Elizabeth’s eyes were screwed tightly shut. For ten days, the doctor tried to pry them open unsuccessfully, finding only the whites visible.

Then one day, Baby Elizabeth suddenly snapped open her eyes and gazed up at her new mother. Sara found herself gazing down into two pools of deep violet fringed by thick black lashes – double rows of lashes! Then the baby smiled. Sara considered this a special greeting from her daughter and told the nurse so.

The nurse chuckled, reminding Mrs. Taylor that infants can’t express emotion:

“That was no smile,” the nurse indicated, “only a little gas.” (3)

Elizabeth Taylor in profile, ca. 1934

The dark fuzz fell off and a swan emerged.

Elizabeth Taylor didn't begin to walk until she was 16 months old. She is shown here with one of the many dogs for which she cared during her lifetime. ca.1934-35

 

As a young girl, Elizabeth Taylor had a big head on a little body. "What a podge!" she remarked, upon seeing a young photo of herself. 1934.

 

Elizabeth Taylor enjoys tea and cake in her dressing room. In this unretouched 1950 publicity photo, one can see La Liz's arms were covered in a dark and velvety down, in keeping with her being a beautiful brunette.

(1) Ladies’ Home Journal,  March- April 1954

(2) Heymann, C. David. Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1995, 2011.

(3)  Walker, Alexander. Elizabeth: The Life of Elizabeth Taylor. New York: Grove Press, 1990, 1997.

Readers: For more on Elizabeth Taylor on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

Natalie Wood and husband Robert Wagner aboard their yacht the Splendour two weeks before Wood went overboard and drowned. The couple argued the night of her death.

According to a witness whose account has never been disclosed, Hollywood star Natalie Wood  was screaming for help as she drowned.

Retired stockbroker Marilyn Wayne said she tried to report the star’s ‘last desperate cries for help’ but was ignored.

Los Angeles police last week said ‘substantial new evidence’ has led them to reopen their investigation into the death 30 years ago this week.

Learn more at the Daily Mail Online.

Readers: For more on Natalie Wood on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

Is Kate pregnant? While William, 29, plus the Danish Crown Prince and Princess tasted peanut paste at a recent visit to a global supply center for Unicef, Kate politely refused -- and reportedly gave her husband of six months a knowing look.

Tabloids are abuzz with speculation that Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, is expecting her first child with Prince William. Buckingham Palace refuses to deny or confirm such a statement but there are hints that there may be some truth to the rumor.

It is all started with Kate refused to sample some peanut paste in a Unicef food packet in a royal visit to Copenhagen. (Doctors warn expectant mothers against eating nuts.) She further fueled speculation  on another occasion when she refused a glass of champagne while hosting a charity dinner on behalf of Prince Charles. (Expectant mothers shouldn’t drink alcohol.)

In Touch magazine claims that Kate is six weeks pregnant. In Touch‘s sources have been reliable in the past, having correctly revealed both the couple’s honeymoon plans and the Queen‘s wedding gift to Kate.

Learn more at The Daily Beast.

Readers: For more on Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

Natalie Wood was born "Natalia Nikolaevna Zakharenko" on July 20, 1938, to Russian immigrant parents. She began acting in Hollywood movies at the age of 4. She died by drowning at the age of 43 during the production of "Brainstorm" (1983) with Christopher Walken.

How did actress Natalie Wood, famous for her star turn in Rebel Without a Cause and West Side Story, end up drowning off Santa Catalina Island, California, in 1981 while boating with actor husband Robert Wagner and costar Christopher Walker? Though officially ruled an accident at the time, the circumstances that led to her death and the nature of her tumble off the yacht the Splendour she owned with Wagner have remained one of Hollywood’s darkest mysteries.

Robert Wagner bends over to kiss flowers that cover the casket of his wife Natalie Wood during her graveside ceremonies on December 2, 1981. If Wagner discovered that his wife was missing from their yacht around midnight, why did he wait over an hour to use the ship's radio to call for help? These and other questions surrounding Woods' death remain unanswered.

Today, 30 years later, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has announced that it is reopening the case of Natalie Woods’ drowning due to “credible information” from multiple sources. One source is Dennis Davern, who was the boat captain of the Splendour that dark and fateful night, a night full of boozing and yelling and tragedy. Davern now says that he lied in his original statement to the police and that Robert Wagner is responsible for Wood’s death.

"Splendour," the yacht owned by Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner

Learn more at MSNBC.

Readers: For more on Natalie Wood on Lisa’s History Room, click here.

British American screenstar Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) as a young girl.

Just after actress Elizabeth Taylor was born, her parents were ushered into the doctor’s office and told that their newborn daughter had a mutation. 

 “Well, that sounded just awful,” her mother Sara Taylor said later,”a mutation.”

The mutation was not a deformity, however. It meant that little Elizabeth was born with double rows of eyelashes.

Elizabeth Taylor, age 10

Sara breathed a little easier to learn that.

“I thought,well, now, that doesn’t sound so terrible at all.”

Elizabeth’s eyes were stunning – large and blue, rimmed by deep, thick lashes. When caught in the light, the color of her eyes was almost violet. (1)

Elizabeth Taylor had luminous beauty - and double rows of eyelashes.

Double rows of eyelashes are usually the result of a mutation at FOXC2 , a gene that influences all kinds of tissue development in embryos. FOXC2 mutations are thought to be responsible for, among other things, lymphedema-distichiasissyndrome , a hereditary disease that can cause disorders of the lymphatic system, in addition to double eyelashes.

The eyelash mutation isn’t always as cosmetically enhancing as Taylor’s turned out to be — the extra eyelashes can sometimes grow inward and damage the cornea. In addition, seven percent of people with lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome also suffer from congenital heart disease.

Coincidentally, Taylor herself had a history of heart problems. In 2009, Taylor underwent surgery to repair a leaky heart valve. Her death on March 23, 2011, was attributed to congestive heart failure.

In April 2010, Elizabeth Taylor launched a new line of perfume "Violet Eyes": "This sensual perfume is inspired by her iconic eye color; it is feminine, captivating, sophisticated and intriguing. Filled with a bouquet of the flowers Elizabeth Taylor loves, the composition is both modern and mysterious."

Source:  Slate

Readers, for more on Elizabeth Taylor at Lisa’s History Room, click here.

Elizabeth Taylor on the Rome set of the film, "Cleopatra," 1962, where she began her scandalous affair with costar Richard Burton. Dame Liz wears her diamond ring from her late husband Mike Todd and the diamond, emerald, and gold bangle watch by Bulgari, Jaeger-LeCoultre

Christie’s auction house is selling screen sensation Elizabeth Taylor’s complete jewelry collection in New York City on Dec. 13-16, 2011. Among the pieces to be sold is the diamond, emerald, and gold “snake” brackelet watch by Bulgari, ca. 1961, shown below:

This cobra bangle watch by Bulgari, estimated at $12,000-15,000, is to be sold at Christie's auction of the Elizabeth Taylor Collection, Dec. 13, 2011.

Readers: For more on The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor Auction by Christie’s, click here and here.

Readers: For more on Elizabeth Taylor here at Lisa’s History Room, click here.

In 2009, British Esquire named Prince Charles the World's Best Dressed Man. "He is perfectly turned out in a double-breasted suit," they claim. "Admirably, the prince keeps his wardrobe in appropriate style: we're told he has a room laid out like a tailor's shop."

Not in Front of the Corgis,  a new book to be released in June 2012 by biographer Brian Hoey, gives us a “behind closed doors” look at the British Royal Family.  Here’s a preview of a section on Prince Charles and Camilla:

Prince Charles employs 133 staff to look after him and Camilla, more than 60 of them domestics: chefs, cooks, footmen, housemaids, gardeners, chauffeurs, cleaners, and his three personal valets—gentleman’s gentlemen—whose sole responsibility is the care of their royal master’s extensive wardrobe and choosing what he is to wear on any particular day. A serving soldier polishes the prince’s boots and shoes every day—he has 50 handmade pairs each costing over £800 ($1275) by Lobb of St James’s—and a housemaid washes his underwear as soon as it is discarded.

Nothing Charles or Camilla wears is ever allowed near a washing machine. Particular attention is paid to handkerchiefs, which are monogrammed and again all hand-washed, as it was found that when they were sent to a laundry, some would go missing—as souvenirs. HRH’s suits, of which he has 60, cost more than £3,000 ($4780) each, and his shirts, all handmade, cost £350 ($558) a time (he has more than 200), while his collar stiffeners are solid gold or silver. Charles’s valets also iron the laces of his shoes whenever they are taken off.

Source: The Daily Beast

Readers: For more on the British Royal Family on this blog, click here.

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