Best known for her extravagant jewelry collection and violet eyes, Elizabeth Taylor helped set the standard for today's glitzy glamour on the red carpet. The Butterfield 8 best actress winner had several beauty tricks up her Valentino sleeves, from taking baths to set her makeup to using drugstore brands for her skin care.
Here, Tim Mendelson, Taylor's personal assistant and current trustee of her estate, and her former makeup artist Francesca Tolot dish on the icon's red carpet beauty routine ahead of the 91st annual Academy Awards on Feb. 24.
Mendelson got his start in the business by working as a shopper for costume designer Nolan Miller on Dynasty in 1984. After college, in 1990, he started hanging pictures and folding sweaters for Taylor, and she soon offered him a permanent position as her right-hand personal assistant. "From that point on, I was with her every day," Mendelson says of developing a "very close relationship" with the actress, who died in 2011.
"It was disarming to run upstairs with a pile of papers and then walk into her bedroom and just see her like that because I'd forget. She was just so beautiful and she'd be like 'What's wrong with you?' and I'm like 'You just look so gorgeous.' And that's with no makeup on at all," Mendelson says. "She would say 'Oh, get over yourself.'" Though he describes lots of behind-the-scenes drama, he attests "She was not bitter at all, she was not jaded at all, and she was not snobby at all. She swore, she was very funny. She had a huge laugh and she really was always looking for ways to enjoy life."
Mendelson and Tolot share 12 of Taylor's top cosmetics secrets that made her one of the original red carpet queens of Hollywood.