Though her Shakespearean contributions most famously included "The Taming of the Shrew," Elizabeth Taylor was her own personal Tempest. She redefined femininity in the twentieth century. She redefined a lot of things: what it mean to be a lady, what it meant to be married, what it meant to be fashionable, what it meant to support a cause. She was a Leading Lady in life.
Taylor's gentle youthfulness in films like the first one I saw her in - "Little Women" - lent charm to early photos that captured a beauty unsullied by heartache and tragedy. One journalist speculated that if her beloved husband had not been killed in a plane crash, she might never have had that infamous series of marriages.
She brought all this to bear in roles as raw as Virginia Woolf - a truly brilliant performance.
A woman who could easily have succumbed to bitterness - and photos from several years suggest she walked that line - Taylor instead turned her furies to humanitarian work. Whatever she did, she was a fierce storm, no matter how unexpected the direction - as when she was godmother to Michael Jackson's children.
Part of Elizabeth Taylor's glamour consisted of the way she deconstructed what it meant to be a lady, in a time when many actresses, like her friend Debbie Reynolds, portrayed a staunchly iconic image.
It's hard to find a modern actress with which to compare Taylor. So many drown in self-doubt or over-expose. But her besetting fault was also her gift: Invictus-like, she lived with confidence, chips fall where they may. Taylor was never a size zero actress fretting on talk shows about her Pilates workouts. She knew how to maintain her mystique. Perhaps Kate Winslet's passionate emotion captures a glimmer of Taylor; perhaps Angelina Jolie's darker shades reflect the pain that informed Taylor's performances, as well as her humanitarian efforts.
But Elizabeth Taylor will remain untouchable as an on- and off-screen tempest. Remember why her career is so storied by tuning in to Turner Classic Movies on April 10, which will run a 24-hour memorial tribute, including some of Taylor's most famous films.