Surprise Appearance of Elizabeth Taylor
On September 20, 1957, actress Elizabeth Taylor and her third husband, Hollywood movie producer Mike Todd, spent the day on the University at Buffalo campus. Elizabeth Taylor’s presence was a delightful surprise as only Mike Todd had been expected.
Mike Todd was invited to Buffalo, NY to give a boost to the city of Buffalo’s 125th Anniversary World Port Celebration going on that month.
Taylor and Todd were the guests of honor at a luncheon at the University at Buffalo, attended by local college officials and theater groups. In the afternoon, Todd delivered a lecture on “the spirit of showmanship” at U.B. (see “Todds Score Hit in UB Appearance” Buffalo Courier-Express, 21 September 1957)
Later that evening, Taylor and Todd were on hand to open the Buffalo World Port Celebration at Buffalo Civic Stadium. After being introduced, Todd jokingly told the crowd he was grateful to be introduced as Mike Todd and not as “Mr. Elizabeth Taylor.”
The Elizabeth Taylor photos are part of the Clifford C. Furnas Collection digital collection and come from the University Archives.
Todds Score Hit in UB Appearance
A lecture on the spirit of showmanship by Mike Todd received the full treatment at the University of Buffalo yesterday. It turned out to be a Hollywood production starring Elizabeth Taylor, Chancellor Clifford C. Furnas and a variety of deans, professors and students acting as extras.
The script — if there was any — and the formalities were tossed aside as soon as the Todds and their party arrived on the campus. Only Todd had been expected.
Chancellor Furnas, who admits having been a good athlete but a poor bit player in his days, gave a superb performance as host. Enjoying the role to the hilt. Dr. Furnas gallantly escorted Miss Taylor under his umbrella, opened car doors and shooed pursuing students hungry for autographs.
The first scene took place in the faculty club. Faculty members came down from their ivory towers to chat with the Todds.
“It’s the first time I came along with Mike on one of his lecture,” Miss Taylor confided. She explained she was sick last year when Mike went to Harvard, Yale and Oxford while movie making. But, she added, she was duly filled in on his activities and speeches.
Todd, a product of the consolidated schools of Bloomington, Mo., hobnobbed with the UB professors to the everlasting glory of both institutions. He explained that though he never went to college, he picked up plenty of postgraduate education on the streets of Chicago and Minneapolis.
Scene Two found the Todds, Chancellor and Mrs. Furnas, the deans, professors and about 60 theater and TV personalities together for an intimate luncheon in the new Tower Residence. Todd was presented an honorary membership by the Blue Masquers, the UB drama club.
He has already grossed $16 million with his “Around the World.” His next Todd-AO movie “Don Quixote” will be filmed in Spain starting next Spring. Miss Taylor and Todd then rushed to Capen Hall for Scene Three — and Todd’s lecture on showmanship. Dr. Furnas watched warily as dozens of students skipped their classes to have their beanies, textbooks and notebooks autographed by their dream girl.
At this point, Miss Taylor was told to stand so that everyone in the overflowing hall could take a good look. She stood up, revealing to all her simple silk taffeta two-piece dress with crossover high V-neckline and her black silk and velvet hat hugging her head with white appleblossoms. The audience cheered. Mike glowed.
Mike took over after being introduced by Prof. Stanley D. Travis, chairman of the department of drama and speech, as the “superlative showman and fantabulous Mike Todd.” In a rambling discourse on film and moneymaking, Todd passed along the following comments:
Not everyone can get out of school, make ‘Around the World in 80 Days” and marry Elizabeth Taylor.
If you make $50 doing something pleasant, you are better off than making $100 at something you don’t like.
Movies are on the way out unless they keep up with the changing tastes of the public.
— Buffalo Courier-Express, September 21, 1957