During the late 40s, I was attending school at University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). One of the Hollywood studios was filming a movie entitled "The Great Lover.” To hype the picture and develop some local interest, the studio arranged with the university to run a Great Lover contest.
The film starred Bob Hope and Elizabeth Taylor. Each fraternity or men’s association was encouraged to enter their Great Lover. The first prize was Elizabeth Taylor would be the Great Lover’s date for the Ball. The contest generated a lot of excitement and publicity. The studio ran newspaper ads and put up billboards. The fraternities plastered posters all over the campus.
Elizabeth Taylor (12) National Velvet
The winner was Sigma Nu (my fraternity) and the Great Lover was one of my friends. Once the winner was selected, the studio ran new ads and put up new billboards with pictures.
It turned out the Great Lover was engaged to a really nice, attractive girl. She went along with all the hoopla and stayed out of the limelight as much as possible. My friend, the Great Lover, asked me to escort her to the Ball.
The Ball was held in the Shrine Auditorium and the orchestra was Harry James and his Music Makers. My friend’s fiancée and I were assigned seats at the head table, but the attraction was the Great Lover and his date, Elizabeth Taylor. Bob Hope was supposed to attend the Ball, but he didn't show up. The Great Lover and his date arrived in a limo about an hour after the Ball had started. There were studio publicity people and reporters everywhere, and the flashbulbs were really popping!
It was quite a show, an UNBELIEVABLE show! Although she was only about 17, Elizabeth Taylor was stunning. She wore a baby blue gown, the color of UCLA's football jersey. Her violet eyes were absolutely captivating; her dark hair and fair skin were staggering. She was so beautiful I couldn’t take my eyes off her, and neither could anyone else.
During the evening, I had one dance with Elizabeth. She was so short, and very petite at that time. I don't remember whether she was a good dancer. Elizabeth Taylor stayed at the Ball less than an hour, but she made it an event to remember.
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