Though Elizabeth Taylor has just died (Wednesday, March 23rd of Congestive Heart Failure) her death is already creating controversy.
Popeater.com has just announced that "writer It was then the actress reportedly let him in on a secret about Dean, a close friend of hers."
Sessums kept true to his promise not to divulge the big secret that Elizabeth Taylor told him, but now, a few days after her death, he dishes the secret that Elizabeth himself told him, in her own words: "I loved Jimmy. I'm going to tell you something, but it's off the record
until I die. OK? When Jimmy was 11 and his mother passed away, he began
to be molested by his minister."
Taylor went on to say that she thought this "haunted him [James Dean] the rest of his life. In fact, I know it did. We talked about it a lot. During 'Giant' we'd
stay up nights and talk and talk, and that was one of the things he
confessed to me." (According to Popeater.com, "Taylor and Dean starred together in 1956's 'Giant,' a film in which Dean
earned his second posthumous Best Actor Academy Award nomination.") The actor was killed in a car accident in 1955 at the age of 24.
According to Kitty Kelley, in her unauthorized biography of Elizabeth Taylor The Last Star, described Taylor's reaction to Dean's death, which was broken to her by director George Stevens: " 'I can't believe it, George; I can't believe it," said Elizabeth. 'I believe it,' replied the director. "He had it coming to him. The way he drove, he had it coming.' " Taylor was still perturbed, despite Stevens' reasoning: " 'I just can't believe this awful thing happened...Not to Jimmy- he was so young, so full of life.' " She showed up to the movie set the next morning and her "eyes were swollen from crying all night." Stevens still protested that James Dean was "not worth the self-indulgent tears that had sent her spinning into hysteria."
Rock Hudson described Stevens treatment of Taylor after Dean's death: "George was not very kind to her...Elizabeth is very extreme in her likes and dislikes. If she likes, she loves. If she doesn't like, she loathes. And she has a temper, an incredible temper which she loses at any injustice. George forced her to come to work after Dean's death. He hadn't finished the film. And she could not stop crying."
Eventually Taylor's famous temper was released on Stevens. " 'You are a callous bastard!' Elizabeth screamed at Stevens as she stormed off the set. 'I hope you rot in hell!' " That confrontation eventually put Elizabeth in the hospital after she collapsed with abdominal pains. "If I hadn't had that blowup with George Stevens, hysterical and crying, and if I hadn't eaten, it wouldn't have happened."
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences refused to give James Dean a posthumous award for Rebel Without a Cause, which caused another famous Taylor meltdown. She refused to go to the awards that year: "I won't go to the awards. I won't honor any group of people who refuse to bestow the recognition due Jimmy- an Oscar for one of the brightest talents ever to come into our industry."
What can one say about Elizabeth Taylor so soon after her death? It wouldn't be right to criticize her, but that is human nature.
I, for one, think that she was right in keeping Jame Dean's secret, mostly, to herself. Telling one reporter was fine, and she was lucky that he didn't have loose lips as some do. The secret isn't totally revelatory, but it does give quite a bit of insight into James' person and persona. Biographies of Taylor and Dean will use this little fact for years to come, and it's just another piece of information that strengthens the bond between them.
Taylor truly did has strong feelings for Dean. It may not have been true love, but it was true friendship. But, in my opinion, Taylor would not have reacted the way she did if she really didn't love him, not as a friend, but as a lover.
Which opens up quite a theory: I believe that Taylor and James Dean has a passionate love affair, and that is why she threw herself into oblivion over his death. You can almost imagine James telling Elizabeth his deep dark secret while they were wrapped up in the covers together.
Taylor was married to Michael Wilding at the time, which makes the theory all the more plausible. Wilding and Taylor did not have the happiest of marriages. So, Taylor looks at her work prospects and goes into the Giant movie project. She meets Dean and there is an instant attraction. Until his death, they see each other sporadically and fall deeply and passionately in love, or at least in lust.
When he died, Taylor did not know what to do with herself. "How can I go back to Wilding after Dean?" she may have asked herself. Wilding and Taylor eventually divorced in 1957. A possible reason for their divorce? James Dean. Wilding could have found out about their affair, became adamant and insisted on a divorce. Dean could have been Taylor's only true love, if he had lived. She must have been racked with guilt for the rest of her years, thinking about what might have happened if he had lived long enough for them to marry...
Another piece of this theory is the fact that Dean told this secret to Taylor at all! This is not a piece of information that one divulges lightly. He must have been truly certain that Elizabeth was someone he could spend the rest of his life with, someone he could marry, AND...someone he could control. He sensed that Taylor needed someone in her life to hold the reins, just as her mother Sara had done years before. He knew Taylor was a puppet for him to control, but his plan ended with that fateful car crash on Route 466. Taylor sensed that too. She wanted his control, his love and his talent to flow into her veins. She knew he was truly a passionate person, someone she could spend the rest of her life with. With his death was her downfall.
She would never be the same afterward.
But, then again, it's only a theory.