Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes were no ordinary baby blues. “Elizabeth’s eyes were not the clear blue of Paul Newman’s or Cameron Diaz’s but dark navy blue like the deep sea, with an indigo light that the most people call violet,” wrote the actress’ couturier, Vicky Tiel.
She said the Cleopatra star used her eyes “as the actress she was: just open them up and glare.” Aside from that magic, her eye color also constantly changed.
Take note: the first tinted contact lenses weren’t available in the market until 1983. Taylor started acting in 1942 and was voted the most popular movie star in the US in 1962. The eye color of the jewelry-obsessed actress often changed to blue, purple, and even green. There were times when it would match the shade of her eyeshadows or the diamonds she was wearing.
A lot has been written and said about the Giant actress’ eyes, yet nobody actually knew what their real color was. Not even her closest friends. But they’d probably agree with what Taylor’s fifth husband, Richard Burton once said: “Those huge violet-blue eyes had an odd glint.” According to science, that might have actually been the literal case.
Elizabeth Taylor’s Real Eye Color
There are a few reasons behind the two-time Academy Award winner’s changing eye color. First, her dark, voluminous lashes amplified the dark pigment of her large eyes—making them look purple or violet. When the actress was born, she was diagnosed with a genetic mutation called distichiasis. It’s a rare medical disorder commonly known as “double lashes.”
Taylor’s natural eye color was blue. It’s just that they had a “very specific, and rare amount of melanin” according to Live Science.
“There are various shades of blues and grays, with many in-between. Violet may have been her typical pigmentation,” said Norman Saffra, chairman of the ophthalmology department at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. “It’s possible to have that eye color it all depends on the amount of melanin.”
People with dark brown eyes have more melanin in their irises compared to someone with green eyes. The melanin levels in Taylor’s irises might have been too high for someone with blue eyes that they appeared violet on most occasions. Saffra added that eye color can change depending on the eye’s light absorption. For instance, if you’re wearing a white shirt, the light will reflect off of the iris and make it look lighter.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Cat on a Hot Tin Roof actress was often photographed wearing black eyeliner with blue, purple, or dark brown eyeshadow. These colors brought out the natural violet hue in her eyes. Now, that wasn’t her only distinct feature. According to Nancy Etcoff, a Harvard psychologist, one of the things that made Taylor so attractive was her “exaggerated” hourglass figure.
Science shows that the ideal waist-to-hip ratio is 0.7 but the actress boasted a 0.6 ratio. “You think of her as voluptuous, but that combined with a tiny waist made her exaggeratedly feminine and attractive,” Etcoff said. The psychologist also noted that Taylor had “hyperfeminine” assets like “that exaggerated lower face with large lips and a small jaw.”
She said it largely contributed to the icon’s attractiveness more than people realize. Taylor was basically “a true miracle of construction” as Richard Burton described.