Now arriving at gate ...

Elizabeth Taylor once starred in a film about Heathrow VIPs' lounge. The casting was perfect, for her dramatic arrivals and departures, husbands in tow, belong to the movie of her own life.

August 1953 Happy families with husband No 2, Michael Wilding

January 1957 With husband No 3, the film producer Mike Todd

June 1957 A lone appearance, but it doesn't last for very long earance

September 1960 With husband No. 4, balladeer Eddie Fisher

June 1961 Again with Fisher, once the husband of Debbie Reynolds

January 1966 With No. 5, Richard Burton - their first marriage

September 1970 Now the world's most famous married couple July 1971 Still with Burton, but a glam granny in go-go boots

April 1971 As ageing trendies of the Love Generation

November 1973 `Constant companion' Henry Wynberg was `in cars'

December 1973 Off her legs, but back with Burton, now No 6

November 1975 On its last legs - the second marriage, that is December 1976 With husband No 7, senator John Warner

March 1985 Comforted, between husbands, by her pet Peke

August 1986 With the actor and escort George Hamilton

April 1987 Slim and single again

February 1988 Another wheelchair, another mink

October 1991 Husband No. 8, Larry Fortensky, was `in construction'

Airports were glamorous once, back when air travel was just a dream for the Great Unwashed and stars adorned the heavens. Every day in the gossip columns and the (35,000 ft) high-society pages, a famous face appeared, pouting hello or waving goodbye as it made its pseudo-Royal progress to or from the VIP lounge - preternaturally aware that the airport was, if not a stage, then certainly a frame: a new and exciting site, exquisitely poised between public and private, splashy entrance and dramatic exit, with a celebrity etiquette all of its own.

No one fitted or fiddled with that frame better than Elizabeth Taylor. Long before third husband Mike Todd, died in their aeroplane, fatally christened The Lucky Liz, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World instinctively realised that the sky was the utter limit. Notorious are the transatlantic tales of Taylor hogging the only toilet for hours so that she could stride from the 747 freshly painted and looking fabulous, apparently impervious to the mortal malady of jet lag. True, she never went so far as Marilyn Monroe, who would slip into an exact but unwrinkled duplicate of her travelling outfit just before landing - but then Taylor had her violet eye beyond mere vanity and on the bigger picture.

As biographer Brenda Maddox notes in Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor?, there was a time - the Michael Wilding marriage, actually - when, "photographs always seemed to show her clutching a baby as she got on and off planes". And when the cosy image ceased to play in the wake of her recreation as Scarlet Woman, Taylor cannily went for flamboyance.

In the early days, the British-born Taylor usually had a handy quote about "coming home", but words soon yielded to what the camera wanted and What Becomes A Legend Most, an on-going parade that was Taylor-made for the pop memory banks. Sunglasses and diamonds; wheelchairs and sympathy; Liz fat; Liz-Lite; Liz, recently made a grandmother, in white hot pants, tight top and go-go boots; Liz across the decades smiling adoringly at Eddie, Dick, George, Larry and sundry other consorts as if they were, indeed, The One and Only and not trinkets she'd treated herself to in Duty Free whilst travelling first class.

An airport's sterile surroundings impose a false, yet none-the-less illuminating, context. Heathrow provides narrative stability for an idol's quick changes and slow transformations, even if its exotic promise, like Taylor's, has faded with familiarity. It was destiny - or crass inevitability - when the two came together in 1963 for The VIPs, no one guessing that, in their different ways, both had already peaked. The era of movie-star glamour was over; Liz would sell less and less tickets at the box office as airlines sold more and more to her erstwhile audience. It's all there in Terence Rattigan's script: after waiting a tortuous 24 hours for the fog to lift, Taylor never sets a stiletto on a plane, but is whisked home instead by Richard Burton in the Rolls, plainly ill-at-ease with being grounded. Like the photographs reproduced here, some sort of metaphor, not only for The Way She Was but The Way We Were, too Celebrity Airports is an illuminated poster campaign by Dennis Stone, at BAA airports from August, held in conjunction with the `Airports' exhibition at The Photographers' Gallery, Great Newport St, London WC2, from 6 Sept

Arts and Entertainment
books
Voices
Caustic she may be, but Joan Rivers is a feminist hero, whether she likes it or not
voicesShe's an inspiration, whether she likes it or not, says Ellen E Jones
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
Arts and Entertainment
The 'three chords and the truth gal' performing at the Cornbury Music Festival, Oxford, earlier this summer
music... so how did she become country music's hottest new star?
Life and Style
The spy mistress-general: A lecturer in nutritional therapy in her modern life, Heather Rosa favours a Byzantine look topped off with a squid and a schooner
fashionEurope's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln
News
Dr Alice Roberts in front of a
peopleAlice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Arts and Entertainment
Unsettling perspective: Iraq gave Turner a subject and a voice (stock photo)
booksBrian Turner's new book goes back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
News
The Digicub app, for young fans
advertisingNSPCC 'extremely concerned'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Some of the key words and phrases to remember
booksA user's guide to weasel words
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior Data Scientist (Data Mining, RSPSS, R, AI, CPLEX, SQL)

    £60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Senior Data Sc...

    Law Costs

    Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

    Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

    £28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

    C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

    Day In a Page

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
    She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

    Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

    The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
    American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

    Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

    James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
    Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

    Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

    Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

    Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

    If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution