Elizabeth Taylor visited Franklin

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, March 30, 2011

FRANKLIN—Last week’s death of 79-year-old actress Elizabeth Taylor brought back memories for lifelong Franklin resident Don Bridgers.

Former Tidewater News photographer Don Bridgers photographed Elizabeth Taylor when she visited Franklin in February 1978.

A former photographer with The Tidewater News, Bridgers shared the story about shooting images of the glamorous British actress when she visited Franklin in February 1978.

“Those eyes were magnetic,” he said. “I never saw anything like it in all my years of doing photography.”

Taylor came to Franklin with her husband, John Warner, a former U.S. Secretary of Navy and then-Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate. Warner was the guest speaker for the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner at the National Guard Armory.

The Chamber presented the Warners with a Southampton ham, bag of peanuts and bundle of pine trees before they headed to the home of Mr. and Mrs. W.M. Camp Jr. for a party with more than 200 guests, according to the Feb. 6, 1978, issue of The Tidewater News.

The actress and her husband spent the night in Franklin and caught a 6 a.m. flight out of Norfolk.

During her visit, the Academy Award-winning actress was interviewed by then-editor David Woodroof at The Tidewater News’ former office on Second Avenue. Bridgers shot the assignment.

The 69-year-old, who worked for The Tidewater News for 22 years and owns Don Bridgers Studio Photography & Photo 4 Video, said Taylor was probably one of the most photogenic people he had photographed over the years.

“She was a very nice person, very cooperative,” Bridgers said. “But what really impressed me was the eyes and how beautiful the woman was.”

Born on Feb. 27, 1932, Taylor would’ve been 46 years old when she visited Franklin.

News of her March 23 death took Bridgers back to 1978 and his files of photos of Taylor, who he also photographed during the Chamber dinner.

“I knew I had them, I just had to find them,” he said. “I shot in black and white. When you get great shots in black and white, then you’ve really done something.”

Anyone wishing to see the photos can reach Bridgers at 562-5339.