Liz Taylor, an ice cream and me
I had a flashback the other night while watching the movie Burton and Taylor on the ABC. The year was 1986 and I had to get from Vancouver to Los Angeles. I am an architect and was working on World Expo 88 for Brisbane and doing some research at Expo 86 in Vancouver.
I took a tiny seaplane to Seattle to pick up a rental car. The flight out of Vancouver Harbour was the most amazing I have taken. There was a wooden paddle strapped to the floats and I felt like Harrison Ford in an epic adventure movie flying only a few hundred metres above sea level for the 160km journey.
The proposed drive was inspired by a movie I’d seen when living in London in the 70s, Five Easy Pieces, starring a young Jack Nicholson and Karen Black. In it, they drive north to Oregon but I was doing the reverse. They stayed in cheap motels and so did I — from memory, I paid about $US25 a night at my various stopovers.
I took the coast road and saw forests of giant redwoods and Sea Ranch, a wonderful seaside resort and township about 160km north of San Francisco. It is one of the best examples in the world of a sensitive development in a windswept natural environment.
After that, I drove to Los Angeles in one day and stopped at a small shopping centre in Malibu for a quick break before heading into LA. Guess who pulled up in the space next to me? It was Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Wagner in a classic BMW coupe. Wagner hopped out and went into the shops, soon returning with an ice cream for Taylor.
He went back to the shops on another errand and there I was, adjacent to one of the most famous stars in the world who was calmly eating an ice cream. Her window was open. I debated with myself but decided to ask her how she was enjoying the ice cream. I know it was a banal thing to do but I had to say something, didn’t I? She politely replied that it was OK and thanked me.
Maybe I got carried away but I’m sure I recognised several other movie people in that car park. Ah, Los Angeles, city of dreams.