Elizabeth Taylor X The Beverly Hills Hotel
A Bert Stern Exhibition featuring longtime guest Elizabeth Taylor
August 3rd – September 30.
The Beverly Hills Hotel served as a backdrop to Elizabeth Taylor’s life in California dating back to her childhood. Her father Francis, who inspired her love of art, had a gallery in the hotel’s shopping arcade and she went on to be a frequent guest throughout her life. Affectionately known as the “Pink Palace,” The Beverly Hills Hotel’s famed bungalows was where Elizabeth Taylor stayed following six of her eight weddings. She regularly dined at the hotel’s iconic Polo Lounge where her ‘splurge’ day favorite of “fried chicken with mashed potato and lots of gravy” is still served, and celebrated iconic moments of her life such as her Oscar win for Butterfield 8 at the hotel. After her passing in 2011, Elizabeth Taylor’s family hosted a private memorial service in the star’s favorite Bungalow 5, which has been recently renamed “Elizabeth Taylor’s Bungalow 5.” Guests and locals will have a chance to discover a variety of images featuring Elizabeth Taylor photographed by Bert Stern in a rare exhibition taking place in the lobby at The Beverly Hills Hotel August 3rd – September 30.
In 1962, when he had begun shooting personalities as well as ads, a call from Twentieth Century Fox to photograph Elizabeth Taylor on the set of Cleopatra took Stern to Rome. Stern was afforded the freedom to do whatever he wanted to do. “I didn’t shoot set pictures,” he told TIME. “I tended to want to shoot portraits. Richard Burton — who I had already shot in my studio in New York — was playing Marc Anthony and they [Taylor and Burton] began an affair. I became friends with the two of them and began to hang out with them off set — I would shoot more candid, fun pictures.”
"I got there at 10am and set up my lighting. She said she was going to take four
hours to do her own make-up. I said that was fine with me, because it would take me four hours to get the lights right. It was more like six hours before she was ready, but when she came out in her Cleopatra makeup it was worth the wait. She was perfect, even with her scar on her throat from her recent tracheotomy. I knew the picture right away. She said, “what do you want me to do?” I said, “you look fantastic. Just sit down and don’t move.” She said, “that’s all you want me to do? I said, That’s it. Don’t turn your head, look straight into the camera.” And I just shot. I wouldn’t let her move one inch. I made her stay in that position-straight on, locked in-and I shot the same picture over and over till I got it”
“Ideally, beauty should be a reflection of something higher, a spiritual truth, and nothing is more wonderful them being around a beautiful woman. Beauty can be in the eye of the beholder, especially is that person happens to be a photographer, but what you see is often what you get. Some people are so amazing that anyone in the world can see there beauty; like Liz Taylor. Beauty is hard to define, but you know it when you see it.”
- Bert Stern