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The first volume to examine the iconic Elizabeth Taylor in this light, Elizabeth Taylor: A Private Life for Public Consumption paints Taylor as the seminal representation of "celebrity." A figure of enormous charisma and cultural sway, she intrigued a global audience with her marriages and extra-marital improprieties, as well as her extravagant jewelry, her never-ending illnesses, her dependency on alcohol, and her perplexing friendship with Michael Jackson. Despite her continued world-renown, however, most people would be hard-pressed to name even three of her films, though she made over seventy.
Ellis Cashmore traces our modern, hyperactive celebrity culture back to a single instant in Taylor's life: the publicizing of her scandalous affair with Richard Burton by photographer Marcelo Geppetti in 1962, which announced the arrival of a new generation of predatory photojournalists and, along with them, a strange conflation between the public and private lives of celebrities. Taylor's life and public reception, Cashmore reveals, epitomizes the modern phenomenon of "celebrity."
Ellis Cashmore is the author of Beyond Black: Celebrity and Race in Obama's America and other books such as Martin Scorsese's America and Tyson: Nurture of the Beast. He is currently Visiting Professor of Sociology at Aston University, UK, having previously held positions at the University of Tampa, USA, and the University of Hong Kong.