Diamonds Are Forever

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Sadly, another great movie star has left the theater. Last week, the passing of Elizabeth Taylor was covered by every major news organization in the world. To her credit, Liz, her marriages and her penchant for fine jewelry would trump the rambling of a crazed dictator, a devastating Japanese disaster and the ongoing threat of a nuclear cloud. I watched as the life of arguably one of the most fascinating women of the last century was laid out in all its glory, mostly diamonds.

I sat there enamored. This woman was, well, hypnotic. I went to work the next morning determined to give Liz her due place in history. I'd say a few words about her to my fourth graders during social studies. What a tribute. If she only knew.

"Does anybody know who Elizabeth Taylor is?" Ten hands shot up in that "speed of light" way that only fourth graders do. My expression went from smug intellectual to surprised sot. The cacophony began:

"She was so pretty." "Yeah, pretty old." "She died." "She was in my third grade class." "No, she wasn't, oh my gosh, she was a actress, she made OLD movies." "She got married all the time." "What did she die of?" "She died of old."

I suddenly felt old myself. I had underestimated the power of the media and of our techno-universal times. It's quite probable that my nine-year-olds knew just as much as I did about the passing of this iconic woman. I was properly and quite rightly put in my place.


Of course what made the passing of Ms. Taylor so extra newsworthy was not her famous marriage-crazy existence, nor was it her respectable and lengthy movie career. It seemed to be her stubborn natural propensity to buck the system. She did this by becoming the first megastar to acknowledge the disease known as AIDS back in the 1980s. This fight became her last, and the one of which she was most proud. This was a fact my students didn't seem to know about, and this would be the place where I would begin.

Thanks, Elizabeth.

With a Perspective, I'm Stephen Lavezzo.