Looking at a picture like this above it’s hard to believe she was for real, but she was a powerhouse of acting talent in the 50s & 60s. She lowered her ingénue voice into a growl for appearances in Tennessee Williams films and the amazing Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), and she faced off against the best actors of her generation. People always cite her looks — but she got more interesting as she got older and more willing to go to those dark places as an actor. When I was a kid we had a copy of LIFE Goes to the Movies with this photo below, showing an un-retouched beauty and strength. I was entranced, even though her Hollywood prime took place before my time; we were all entranced, weren’t we? Que descanse en paz, Liz.

For a terrific assessment of her life on & off screen, particularly her work for social change, see Melissa Silverstein’s post at Women & Hollywood.

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