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The First Time David Bowie Met Elizabeth Taylor

Photographed by Terry O'Neill
If there's one person you don't keep waiting, it's Elizabeth Taylor. That is unless you're David Bowie, and it's 1975 and you're the most sought after musician on the planet. Still, we'd rather not have been photographer Terry O'Neill, who played the waiting game for a prickly two hours with an increasingly tense Liz.

Liz, who'd admired Ziggy from afar, had requested her good friend Faye Dunaway arrange a get-together at director George Cukor's house in Beverly Hills as she was interested in potentially casting Bowie for a role in her movie, The Blue Bird due out the following year (he didn't bag the role).

"Liz was pretty annoyed and on the verge of leaving," O'Neill told London's National Portrait Gallery about the incident. "But we managed to persuade her to stay." To break the ice when Bowie finally arrived, O'Neill began casually snapping photos of the two. The result? A now-iconic series of the unlikely pair sharing a cigarette.

Reminiscing about some of his favourite work, O'Neill told Harper's Bazaar in 2011, that “When I look back at my photographs of her [Elizabeth], it’s always this set that I come back to – a young David Bowie in a nervous embrace, Elizabeth in total command. In the fading light of Hollywood director George Cukor’s home, a popstar meeting a superstar. At Elizabeth’s request, I had arranged the whole thing. An unlikely meeting, an intoxicating pair; the shots were instantly snapped up all over the world.”
Photographed by Terry O'Neill