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Sweet Sixteen: 1948

Sweet Sixteen: 1948

        "In my studio Elizabeth was quiet and shy. She struck me as an average teenager, except that she was incredibly beautiful." -- Philippe Halsman

"In a décolleté silk evening dress Elizabeth Taylor sits for photographer Philippe Halsman. The former child star will be 17 next week." (Life magazine, February 21, 1949; photo taken in New York, October 1948.) Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

Is this really that different?

I think Hollywood and the fashion industry age our teens just as Elizabeth has been "marketed," just with different clothes.

Where's the personal engagement?

It's a lovely, renaissance type of portrait. Halsman was a capable and sometimes witty editorial photographer, but I sure don't know much about her from this; she's just posing for us to admire her bosom.

I look for something that the subject may be thinking about, some interaction between her and the photographer, and it seems to be lacking here.

From her long history we all know there's a lot more to Liz than this. She was a fine actor and activist for worthy causes, and her eyes were an amazing violet that you can't see here.


Sixteen and already a penchant for diamonds.

As my granddad used to say --

"She's prettier than a speckled pup."

Sixteen? Best Prom Date Ever

"Mom and Dad, I'd like to introduce my prom date, Elizabeth. And, Elizabeth, please bear with me while I try to pin this corsage on your dress."

Re: Teen Agers

The corollary to nell49’s question “why was it that so many young people looked so much more mature decades ago?” would have to be: why is it that so many older people look so much less mature now? As opposed to the way that Liz Taylor looks like such a grown woman as a 16-year-old, I often wonder why many women twice her age look like girls, and I don’t mean that in a flattering sense. Many grown-ups seem unwilling or unable to assume their own adulthood and instead project a childish vibe even into their thirties. It’s not a healthy look, or an alluring one, either, and I just wish all women could own and wear their womanhood as well as this teenager does.

Not my favorite ...

... picture of Elizabeth, but one of my top five. If I had to choose a photo of her to be first among equals, I'd pick this one from Suddenly Last Summer:

My absolute favorite images of Elizabeth ever, though, would have to be every single frame of her captured on film in A Place In The Sun. She celebrated her eighteenth birthday during production. Montgomery Clift wasn't bad either. Both simply divine. They definitely do not make them like that anymore.

Succinctly speaking

Yowza and hubba hubba.

Just your typical 16-year old.

Maybe my memory is failing with age, but try as I might, I can't seem to recall any of the 16-year-old girls in my high school looking quite like Miss Taylor does in this ... alluring photograph.


Loss of Words

Other than WowZEE!!! and B E A Utiful, I've got nothing.

Teen Agers

Four months shy of her 17th birthday. She could pass for late thirties or even fortyish from this image, and why was it that so many young people looked so much more mature decades ago?

In a hallway of my junior high school, there were photos of every ninth grade class from 1933 (this, in 1962), and I was always amazed at how many of the students looked like they could have been in their twenties. It must have been the clothing and hairstyles.

Or was it just that I looked about 12 in the same grade?

Elizabeth Taylor Was Really Something

She was of my parents' generation, but I've got to say: she really had it on a lot of levels, from a young age, and she held incredibly strong roles for two solid decades, as an incredible actor. I recently rewatched "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" (1966), and was just floored (once again) by how raw and perfect and amazing Taylor ran Martha through every charged scene.

That 18 years after this teenage Hollywood actress is presented so gorgeously golden by Philippe Halsman, she would be unleashing so fully such a fabulously grotesque character as Martha ... well, that says a lot for this 16-year-old.

Elizabeth Taylor didn't let her looks get in the way of great roles.

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