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A Glamour Girl to Outdo Even Barbie

October 22, 1998|MICHAEL QUINTANILLA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

And the Oscar goes to . . . Mattel Inc.

That's right, the toy factory behind the behemoth-selling babe known as Barbie. Of course, this Oscar is make-believe. But that's OK because we're playing dolls right now. So play nice, because the doll in the diva spotlight is Elizabeth Taylor, all glammed up for the Academy Awards.

Standing slightly more than 12 inches tall, this one-of-a-kind doll is decked out in real diamonds, a faux fur shawl, and a silk gown with organza, satin and petticoats--a replica of the outfit Liz wore to the 1954 Oscars.

From the top of her poufy brunet 'do to the pointy heels of her dark stilettos, embellished with tiny rose details, this is one sexy kitten ready for a hot tin roof.

The doll--three months in the making and with La Liz's full approval--will be one of 12 unique items auctioned off by Sotheby's at Dream Halloween, a fund-raiser for Children Affected by AIDS Foundation on Saturday at Santa Monica Airport's Barker Hangar.

Taylor, a major supporter of AIDS fund-raising, will kick off the auction and give a speech at the event--to be emceed by Jamie Lee Curtis and expected to draw many celebrities.

"You could have knocked me over with a feather," said Mattel doll sculptor Frederick Jackson, recalling the moment he was told about the top-secret project.

Two head molds and a body mold later, plus the addition of an exquisite makeup job, a couture-like silk dress and enough diamonds to make Barbie balk, the tailor-made Taylor was completed.

"We had to commission the diamonds because we couldn't find diamonds that size in the same setting," said Mattel's Joe Cristina about the miniature--but mesmerizing--27 diamonds on the necklace and matching earrings, all set in real platinum.

"From the very beginning, Miss Taylor has been so supportive of our cause," said Cristina. The vice president of inventor relations went public with his HIV-positive status five years ago when he founded the children's foundation.

To date, the foundation has raised more than $3 million; the group hopes to add an additional million--including an expected six figures for the Liz doll alone--on Saturday when Barker Hangar will be transformed into a Halloween wonderland. Guests, including about 250 kids affected by AIDS, will trick or treat at the "homes" of more than 60 characters, including Barney, the Power Rangers, the Rugrats, Barbie and Garfield.

Jill E. Barad, chairman and chief executive of Mattel, and Michael Goldstein, CEO of Toys R Us Inc., will receive Ribbon of Dreams awards for their commitment to the cause and fund-raising efforts.

Money raised will help the foundation provide grants to nonprofit organizations across the country that help children "infected and affected by AIDS," Cristina said. So far, 41 groups in 14 states have received help.

"Children are sometimes the forgotten ones in the AIDS epidemic," Cristina said. "They are the ones living with it and trying to survive with HIV. We just want to try to speak for these kids. We want to give them the most normal and joyful childhood they can possibly have."

* For tickets--$250 a person--or donations to Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, call (310) 201-5033.

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