She captured the nation's hearts as a jodhpur-rocking girl jockey in National Velvet. Wrote a Time critic: "Twelve-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, a beautiful little girl who has hitherto had minor roles in Lassie Come Home, Jane Eyre, etc., is probably the only person in Hollywood who could bring to this curious role its unusual combination of earthiness and ecstasy."
Her violet eyes-and her lush lashes-became the stuff of legend. "I do remember shortly after she was born she gave us a good scare," her mother once told a biographer. "The doctor told us she had a mutation. Well, that sounded just awful, a mutation. But, when he explained that her eyes had double rows of eyelashes, I thought, well, now, that doesn't sound so terrible at all."
Her fame grew when she portrayed Amy in Little Women. "Her complexion has been described by an ecstatic publicity man as 'a bowl of cream with a rose floating in it,'" wrote Time in a story about up-and-comers. "Cameramen have paid her Hollywood's ultimate compliment to beauty: 'She doesn't have a bad angle.'"
Declared to have the "face and grace of an angel" by the Artists' Group of America, the 18-year-old posed in her studio dressing room. She soon landed more grownup roles in Father of the Bride and The Big Hangover.