Here is an excerpt from a coffee table slash memoir manuscript I wrote in honor of my mother Doris Banbury’s photographic work of celebrities she revered and had aspired to become. It is titled; TREASURES OF A BRONX WARRIOR; Photographs and Memories of a Devout New Yorker, Movie Star Hopeful and Loving Mother. Elizabeth Taylor was one of many celebrities Doris photographed in the 1950s in New York, her hometown.
Excerpt from Chapter Five:
I watched Doris scatter her photos on the table, pick at them, and arrange them in no particular order. I stood near her.
Gosh, she’s pretty, I said. Doris was inspecting a picture of Elizabeth Taylor.
Elizabeth Taylor was a beautiful woman, Doris replied. Stunningly so.
Was she friendly?
Yes. And very polite, and I am not telling you any more stories!
Because I don’t want them in a book.
But, Ma, this is your legacy. Your old photos are what you will eventually pass down to me and David.
“David and me,” and you will wait for that inevitability. Until then, leave me alone.
I pointed to another picture of Elizabeth Taylor wearing a tweed suit against the backdrop of downtown New York high-rises.
I can’t get over how pretty Elizabeth Taylor was.
No, dear, Marilyn Monroe was pretty; Elizabeth Taylor was breathtaking. I had never seen such a beautiful woman in my life. Funny thing, she wasn’t vain about her looks. Well, neither was Marilyn Monroe.
Doris released her tight grip on the photos. She sat on the couch, looking tired and contemplative.
As a matter of fact, Elizabeth Taylor was quite modest and shy. I remember, when I asked to take her picture, she posed graciously, but she was cautious; she didn’t talk much. Marilyn didn’t mind talking, but Elizabeth was quiet.
Doris pulled out a different photo of Taylor on the steps of a building wearing a white gown. A man stood behind her.
Now, you see that man standing directly behind Elizabeth at the top of the stairs in this photo here? That was her husband at the time, Mike Todd. He was very protective of her, hated anyone to take her picture. You know, he died in a plane crash and Miss Taylor was… well, she was devastated. She adored Mike Todd, you know. Look how her clothes fit on her, oh my goodness. I had always wanted to be beautiful like her. Well, except black, of course. I would have loved to look like Lena Horne, oh, she was beautiful. And, oh, and Dorothy Dandridge was…yes, they were all quite beautiful.
You were beautiful too, Ma.
Don’t be foolish. I once had a drama teacher tell me to my face that the most I would get out of pursuing an acting career would be to work behind the scenes.
That was vicious.
Well, she was being truthful, I guess. All right, well, enough of that. I’m busy.
R.I.P. Miss Elizabeth (Don’t call her Liz!)