So we miss Elizabeth Taylor, yes. She is one of those fascinating people that has a book of information released about her on every major news site the day she dies. We’re no different.
When she was young, she was in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” with Paul Newman. She was a strident anti-war activist. She married a Hilton, a US Senator, Richard Burton twice, and one dude she met at the Betty Ford Clinic (they even got hitched at the Neverland Ranch). I knew almost none of this until today.
But the most fascinating story to come out of Elizabeth Taylor’s death was a barely-related, third-degree story to her death, and one that had little to do with her at all.
Elizabeth Taylor’s New York Times obituary was written by a dead man. An actual dead man.
Yep, Gene Miller died in 2005, and he wrote the 4,000-word Elizabeth Taylor obituary sometime before that. These sorts of canned obits happen all the time, but the illusion usually still holds. Everyone is usually still alive. But not this time. Miller’s post-death biography was apparently just too good to toss out.
Then that led us to the third degree, which is Miller’s obituary about himself, written in 2005. It is brilliant and heartbreaking and sort of perfect. We’ve read it maybe 15 times today. It ends like this:
“Swam a thousand yards daily with the grace and beauty of a floating log. Heart beat so slow pacemaker installed. For sexual escapades, see addenda.”
So thanks, Elizabeth Taylor, for being around and being this good at what you do. We wouldn’t have read these awesome sentences without you.