Image via the Press Enterprise
It warms my heart to know that the exceedingly glamorous Elizabeth Taylor, who died on Wednesday at 79, once stood on the same ground where I screamed my head off, flirted with boys, and caught the brass ring. She stopped by the decidedly unglamorous Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pennsylvania, located near my hometown of Danville, in 1988. She was dating Malcolm Forbes, a motorcycle enthusiast who was participating in a ride to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. The ride began in New Jersey and wrapped up at the amusement park — here she is above, surrounded by all the bikers and looking surprisingly at home. Ms. Taylor had intended to ride her own motorcycle, but because of back problems, Forbes’ helicopter dropped her off “wearing a Forbes T-shirt, jeans, boots and a few samples from her jewelry collection,” according to my hometown local paper.
When reporters asked what she thought of Central Pennsylvania, Taylor remarked, “There are so many smiling faces!” Good answer!
Apparently the crowd became a little too enthusiastic, and a press conference was canceled because fans broke through a barrier and bombarded Taylor with requests for photos and autographs. But the scene apparently stayed fairly civilized, and Taylor obliged the fans until it was time for a Knoebels Amusement Resort lunch of chicken barbecue, which the park provided for all the riders. Somehow I can’t imagine her eating chicken barbecue with her fingers, and I can’t imagine her eating it with plastic utensils, but I can’t imagine there was another option.
Also from the local paper:
As they ate, Berks County musician Pat Garrett, whose band played throughout the day, dedicated the song “I Want a Sexy, Old Lady” for the then 56-year-old actress.
I wish I could know how that went over. May she rest in peace.
Note: If you’re ever in Central Pennsylvania, bless your heart, do stop at Knoebels. It is my favorite amusement park. It has amazing roller coasters (the wooden Phoenix in my favorite), a haunted house that made my husband jump into my lap, delicious french fries, pizza and ice cream (get the bittersweet at the watermill!), and compared to Disney (which OK, I’ve never been to) and most other amusement parks, its dirt cheap!
Thanks, Mom, for the tip!