Preparations get underway to make The Night of the Iguana in Mexico. John Huston persuades Seven Arts to finance the building of a hotel on a remote strip of Puerto Vallarta’s coastline with no roads or essential services. The arrival of Burton and Taylor attracts the paparazzi:
An Aeroméxico flight from Montreal, Canada, was beginning its descent to Mexico City. In the airplane’s first class cabin, a pair of violet eyes looked out the small elliptical window. The image resembled a cameo portrait framed in a locket. Elizabeth Taylor wore a black Chanel suit with a natural pearl necklace and gold bracelets. Her black hair was cut short above the neck, with a black velvet bow on top of her head.
From her window seat, Taylor could see thousands of people massed behind wooden barriers outside the terminal. There were television news crews and pressmen carrying Graflex Pacemaker Speed Graphic cameras with flexible bellows and interchangeable lenses. A cordon of uniformed policemen armed with handguns stood nearby.
Behind the plane’s window, Taylor nervously fondled the heavy bangles on her left wrist. The actress took a gold compact mirror from her handbag and applied thick black eyeliner and bright pink lipstick. Then she dabbed Chanel No. 5 on her neck and wrists and drew in the heavy floral scent. Peering into the semidarkness, Taylor spied a group of protesters standing near the tarmac holding painted signs that read: ADULTEROS! FUERA DEL PAIS! VAYANSE DE AQUI! – ADULTERERS! LEAVE THE COUNTRY! GET OUT OF HERE! She turned her head away, as if trying to will the disturbing apparition to disappear from view.
In the adjacent seat, a second pair of eyes, blue-green and bloodshot, peeked over her shoulder. The object of Taylor’s obsessive love, Burton was dressed in a brown wool blazer, white shirt, royal blue tie and light brown slacks. He leant over and kissed her on the cheek. “It’s time to go, love,” he said, patting her hand. “I don’t want to go outside,” she replied. “Don’t worry,” he smiled. “Everything will be alright.” Burton wanted to leave the plane immediately but Taylor was frightened. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” she told him. “Oh, Elizabeth,” he teased. “They’re only a bunch of star-struck fans waiting to see the most beautiful woman in the world.” Taylor shook her head. “No, Richard, this is a mob. I don’t like it.”…
NEXT: Part 3