Liz Taylor’s Ethical/Unethical Final Joke

Liz's last laugh

Screen legend Elizabeth Taylor, who drove husbands, producers, directors and co-stars to distraction by her habit of being late to appointments. meetings and film sets, played a joke on her mourners when she arranged to be “late for her own funeral,” scheduling it to start 15 minutes after the announced time.

Anyone who plans a joke for their own funeral generally has my respect and approval. This one, however, is ambiguous as well as funny. Tardiness is disrespectful to those who have to endure it, and often is a sign of arrogance and lack of empathy. Movie stars like Taylor who keep crews and actors on the set fray tempers, inflate budgets and undermine shooting schedules. Being habitually late is being habitually unethical.

If Taylor’s final episode of tardiness was meant as an acknowledgment of her failing, then it was a lovely and ethical gesture. If, however, it was meant as a defiant lack of regret for a lifetime of keeping everyone waiting, it does not reflect as well on Taylor’s character as it does on her sense of humor.

Being late to your funeral is funny; being late to everything else is not. Everyone will give Liz the benefit of the doubt on this, and that is appropriate, now that she is in death as she was in life, the late Elizabeth Taylor.

2 thoughts on “Liz Taylor’s Ethical/Unethical Final Joke

  1. You are absolutely correct about tardiness showing a lack of respect and a lack of character (and this coming from someone who is admittedly chronically tardy – although I like to say I am rarely late but never early…). One day when I was teaching on the 49 character qualities as defined by the Character Training Institute, one of the police officers in the class said, “All this character stuff is just about following the Golden Rule.” That was actually a profound point.

    The Greatest Leader Who Ever Lived understood this principle. If you want other people to be truthful to you, you should be truthful to them. If you want others to be dependable to you, be dependable to them. If you want compassion, be compassionate. If you want hospitality, be hospitable. And if you want other people to be punctual with you, then show them the courtesy of being punctual with them. That’s the Golden Rule in practice.

    Sheriff Ray Nash

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