Monday, August 22, 2016

She Did it For A Million Dollars

I'm currently listening to an audio book that details the love affair of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar. I'm learning quite a bit, but as I'm listening, I'm comparing the facts with what I can remember about the 1963 film version starring Elizabeth Taylor. 

Cleopatra used to be shown on television periodically when I was a kid. I don't actually remember that much, but being into movie trivia, I do remember reading that Liz Taylor was paid one million dollars to play the role. That's nothing nowadays, but back then it was big deal. Liz cleaned up in more ways than one. Check out the facts below from

Joan Collins, Audrey Hepburn, and Susan Hayward were at first considered to play Cleopatra. After various issues, producer Walter Wanger called Taylor on the set of her latest film, "Suddenly, Last Summer" to offer her the role through her then husband Eddie Fisher. Joking, Taylor replied "Sure, tell him I'll do it for a million dollars." While such an offer was unheard of at the time, it was accepted, and in 1959 Taylor became the first Hollywood actor to receive $1 million for a single movie.

Taylor's contract stipulated that her $1 million salary be paid out as follows: $125,000 for 16 weeks work plus $50,000 a week afterwards plus 10 percent of the gross (with no break-even point). By the time production was restarted in Rome in 1961 she had earned over $2 million. After a lengthy $50 million lawsuit brought against Taylor and Burton by the studio in 1963 and a countersuit filed by Taylor, the studio finally settled with the actress in 1966. Her ultimate take for the film was $7 million.

Is any of this news to you? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!


William Kendall said...

I hadn't known that. And admittedly I haven't seen the movie.

Norma Beishir said...

I most recently saw the movie a couple of weeks ago on Netflix. Since it's four hours long, it's a movie one saves for a day when nothing else is going on.

What I remember most of the behind the scenes drama is that after the filming was over, Elizabeth Taylor left Eddie Fisher for Richard Burton, who was married at the time.

Maria McKenzie said...

@William: If you like historical spectacles, you'll like Cleopatra!

@Norma: It really is long. I think they used to show it over a two night period when it was on TV. Oh yes, the Taylor/Burton affair was a big scandal! Most people probably remember that more than the movie itself;).

Mark R Hunter said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard the stories. I say, good for her! I mean from the pay standpoint, not the behind the scenes drama.