Who was the most beautiful couple in cinema history you ask? Sure, there’s support for Brad and Angie, as well as Heath and Jake. Yet, as good gays, we think none can compare to the fabled pairing of movie legends Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.
The epically hetero Taylor, who would become a tirelessly devoted friend to the gay community during the early years of the AIDS epidemic, and the tragically closeted Clift torridly tangled in three films (A Place in the Sun, Raintree County, and Suddenly, Last Summer), but was their passion consummated off-screen, as well? Screen legend Debbie Reynolds claims it was.
In her upcoming memoir, Unsinkable (out Tuesday), Carrie Fisher’s unbridled mommy, who would infamously lose hubby Eddie Fisher to Taylor in 1958, remembers an incident at a party at Taylor’s Hollywood Hills mansion that indicates the easy-on-the-eyes duo didn’t save the smolder for the camera.
Reynolds recalls her surprise watching as Clift and Taylor, then married to stuff British actor Michael Wilding, “laughed and giggled while making out in the water in front of us all… Even though Monty had boyfriends as well as girlfriends, it was obvious that he and Elizabeth had been intimate. Elizabeth could seduce any man, gay or straight,” Reynolds writes.
Unfortunately, this was the same night that the otherwise gay Clift, who’s many demons included an affair with the bottle, had consumed too much alcohol and crashed his car after leaving the bash, disfiguring his impossibly beautiful face. It’s become Hollywood lore that upon hearing the news of the accident, Taylor rushed to assist her beloved friend.
“Elizabeth stuck her hand in his mouth, felt the back of his throat where some of his teeth had become lodged after being knocked out, and pulled them to prevent him from choking,” Reynolds says of her fellow icon. “He might have died if she hadn’t come to his aid.” Clift would eventually die at age 45 in 1966 , while Taylor would survive until 2011.
We’ve long admired Taylor’s passion, particularly her slavish devotion to her LGBT friends and tireless commitment to raising awareness for HIV/AIDS, but Reynolds’ anecdote begs a question: Would you have switched teams for Elizabeth Taylor?