Bury St Edmunds: Former MP Sir Eldon met Dame Elizabeth Taylor as teen star
09:16 25 March 2011
A TOWN’S longest-serving former MP has told how he helped arrange a photoshoot with a young Dame Elizabeth Taylor for a major publication.
Sir Eldon Griffiths, who served as a Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds for more than 20 years, met the actress – who died on Wednesday – when he worked as a journalist in America.
Sir Eldon told how he had been a fairly new cub reporter in Los Angeles when he was instructed by Life Magazine in New York to arrange a photoshoot of the budding starlet.
He said the magazine had been facing competition and one of the tried and tested ways for the publication to boost sales was to put a really pretty girl on the front cover.
He was requested by the magazine to go to Beverly Hills High School where there was an English girl, they said, who had made a few movies, one called National Velvet, and who was very beautiful.
Sir Eldon travelled there with a photographer.
“And there was an extraordinary good looking 16 or 17-year-old girl,” he said.
“She did have blackberry coloured hair, violet eyes and an extraordinary good complexion.”
The photographer took dozens of pictures which Sir Eldon then put on a plane to New York.
He said the day after publication Dame Elizabeth’s father came to his office to say the magazine had no right to print them without his permission.
Sir Eldon, 85, said he was threatening to sue, but in the end settled for a course in foxtrot at the Arthur Murray dance studio.
He said the photoshoot was the first for a major American publication.
Speaking of her death, Sir Eldon said: “I think she had lived all the life that she could and I think in the end she was doing good things and she was one of the film actresses I have been privileged of at least having something to do with.”
He said Dame Elizabeth – who was born in the UK, but moved to America at the outbreak of the Second World War – managed to combine almost an English teenager’s complexion and a sense of innocence with a much sexier quality.
Sir Eldon – father to Conservative leader of St Edmundsbury Borough Council John Griffiths – splits his time between Bury St Edmunds and the US.
During his political career he has held the position of Minister for Sport.