Mystery over Taylor's true eye color
In death, as in life, it is her eyes that haunt.
After Hollywood's grande dame Elizabeth Taylor passed away, people paid their online respects, searching out her biography, baby pictures, good works (AIDS foundation), her relationships both familial (children, Richard Burton) and famous (Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol). Yet most unique were those eyes, and people wanted another look into them as they sought out "elizabeth taylor eyes," "elizabeth taylor violet eyes pictures," and "elizabeth taylor's eye close up."
Could someone's eyes truly be purple? If photos or her namesake perfume -- Violet Eyes, which debuted just last spring -- weren't proof enough, eyewitness accounts certainly testify to those riveting orbs. A remembrance by Hollywood Reporter film critic Todd McCarthy recalled a meeting in the 1970s, when the actress had essentially retired from the big screen. "What should abruptly stop me in my tracks," he wrote, "but a pair of eyes unlike I've ever beheld, before or since; deep violet eyes of a sort withheld from ordinary mortals that were suddenly looking up into mine from mere inches away."
David Stratton, a film critic for the Australian, also swooned in a 1973 encounter following a festival premiere of her movie "Night Watch": "I was ushered into her presence at the official reception and found myself transfixed by her famous violet eyes. I have never seen eyes of that color before or since and I don't believe cinemagoers were able to appreciate how remarkable they were."
Eye of the Beholder
Violet is indeed a rarity, more so than green eyes, although theories as to what makes them purple vary. Color, of course, is determined by how much melanin pigment the eye has and, to get really scientific, those variations in single nucleotide polymorphisms (thankfully shortened to SNPS) near the OCA2 gene, which are responsible for the color of eyes, hair, and skin. Then again, the simplest explanation would be the same one her doctor gave her mother when describing baby Elizabeth's double row of eyelashes: a "mutation," according to the 1996 book Elizabeth.
Those eyes inspired longing, envy, and a few beauty products: Chicago optical company Wesley-Jensen created violet contact lenses in the 1980s. Before their debut, a W-J spokesperson told The New York Times, "pictures of Elizabeth Taylor are pasted all over our R&D lab." A California ocularist, one of the few in the world to create artificial eyeballs, fulfilled one patient's request for "Elizabeth Taylor eyes."
If you wondered what the scent of violet eyes might be, that would be "light shades of purple rose and violet peony, combined with velvety accents of white peach" with a "voluptuous blend of cedar wood and amber [to] convey the power, sensuality, and mystery of Elizabeth Taylor's eyes."