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She’s Got Elizabeth Taylor Eyes

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Elizabeth Taylor - Everett Collection

In death, as in life, it is her eyes that haunt.

After Hollywood's grande dame Elizabeth Taylor passedaway, people paid their online respects, searching out her biography, babypictures, good works (AIDS foundation), her relationships both familial(children, Richard Burton) and famous (Michael Jackson, Andy Warhol). Yet mostunique were those eyes, and people wanted another look into them as they soughtout "elizabeth tayloreyes," "elizabeth taylorviolet eyes pictures," and "elizabeth taylor's eye closeup."

Could someone's eyes truly be purple? If photos or hernamesake perfume -- Violet Eyes, which debuted just last spring -- weren'tproof enough, eyewitness accounts certainly testify to those riveting orbs. Aremembrance by Hollywood Reporter film critic Todd McCarthyrecalled a meeting in the 1970s, when the actress had essentially retired fromthe big screen. "What should abruptly stop me in my tracks," hewrote, "but a pair of eyes unlike I've ever beheld, before or since; deepviolet eyes of a sort withheld from ordinary mortals that were suddenly lookingup into mine from mere inches away."

David Stratton, a film critic for the Australian, alsoswooned in a 1973 encounter following a festival premiere of her movie"Night Watch": "I was ushered into her presence at the officialreception and found myself transfixed by her famous violet eyes. I have neverseen eyes of that color before or since and I don't believe cinemagoers wereable 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, isdetermined by how much melanin pigment the eye has and, to get reallyscientific, those variations in single nucleotide polymorphisms (thankfullyshortened to SNPS) near the OCA2 gene, which are responsible for the color ofeyes, hair, and skin. Then again, the simplest explanation would be the sameone 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 beautyproducts: Chicagooptical 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&Dlab." A Californiaocularist, one of the few in the world to create artificial eyeballs, fulfilledone 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 withvelvety accents of white peach" with a "voluptuous blend of cedarwood and amber [to] convey the power, sensuality, and mystery of ElizabethTaylor's eyes."

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