Local man recalls meeting Elizabeth Taylor

March 24, 2011 5:01:02 AM PDT
Elizabeth Taylor, a Hollywood icon who earned fame for what she did in front of and behind the camera, died of congestive heart failure at age 79.

As the world remembers her, one visit to Houston in April 1978 still lives in the memory of former Webster Police Officer John McDaniel, who was escorting her through the streets of Houston when he crashed his motorcycle.

"Looked back to see where they were and when I looked back, I hit a gravel area and flipped my motorcycle," he said.

McDaniel landed on his back.

"Kinda knocked my breath out. When I got my composure back, I looked up and John Warner was kneeling alongside of me, and she was standing alongside of me. They both helped me up and was real concerned about how I was," he said. "Then she planted a big ol' kiss on my cheek and they helped me up and I finished the escort."

But it was Taylor's reaction that took him by surprise.

"Her concern was the major thing. I just had no idea she was such a down-to-earth person, so I was real surprised, really surprised to even see 'em get out of the car when I fell," he said.

McDaniel ended up breaking his ribs during the accident, but he didn't know it until he went out later that night square dancing.

"It was quite a shock; it was quite a shock that it happened, number one, number two that she cared at all. That was quite a surprise," he said.

After the motorcade was over, Taylor broke through the crowd and came back to him to make sure he was all right, McDaniel said.

"She was obviously real concerned, and I was very impressed with her. She was a very nice lady," he said.

Taylor won two Oscars for playing a drunken wife and a prostitute. Her resume included roles in memorable films such as Cleopatra, Giant and Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe? Off the screen, she gained attention for her crusade against aids and her fight with addiction.