Elizabeth Taylor and Gerry Ferraro

I spare a moment for Real Life here, in part because of the prominence of these two women who have died within just a few days of each other.

Elizabeth Taylor is a name that has been out of the limelight of Hollywood for over a decade now. But she is warmly remembered by many there for the great movies she made, as well as for her work in AIDS awareness, and not least for the unbridled, passionate, often controversial life she led through her years.  Some remember her as much for the collection of husbands she assembled over the years — one of them twice, and that man (Richard Burton) probably the enduring love of her life even if they couldn’t stay together with each other.  As a book- and movie-seller, as well as someone who grew up during a good chunk of her time in the public eye, I know her for these things, too.  I prefer to remember her for the movies I enjoyed seeing her in, Giant and Doctor Faustus.  Those are just two of at least 70 credits I find for her at IMDb, including voice work in cartoons — something I had never known about.  She possessed a beauty that was obvious from her early days in front of the camera in National Velvet, and a pair of luminous violet eyes that seemed almost unique in nature.  She will be missed in Hollywood, and anywhere that her films are still seen and apppreciated.

I heard about Geraldine Ferraro dying today at age 75 on my way home from work, and my memories shot back to 1984, the year she broke over 200 years of American political precedent by becoming the first woman nominated from a major party for Vice President of the United States.  It was an incredible time for women; we were finally breaking in to the big party, though we had won political success over the years at the state and Congressional level.  Her nomination made it clear we were here to stay.  The Washington Post noted in its obituary that there were 24 women in the House and Senate, including Gerry, when she made her bid alongside Walter Mondale for the big chairs.  She and Mondale were drowned in the crush of Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory that November — but today, almost 90 women sit in the Congress, as well as many others in state houses and governor’s chairs across the country.  That, if nothing else, is Gerry Ferraro’s lasting contribution to our heritage.

Blessings be upon them both.

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