People Exclusive

What Happened the Day Elizabeth Taylor Went Hitchhiking – and Other Stories from Her Hidden Life

The Day Elizabeth Taylor Went Hitchhiking: Friend Firooz Zahedi Tells the Story
Elizabeth Taylor on the cover of PEOPLE

02/24/2016 AT 08:00 AM EST

She was one of the most beautiful and glamorous women of all time but to Firooz Zahedi, his friend Elizabeth Taylor was just "low-key" Elizabeth, a "hippie," humanitarian – and hitchhiker.

Zahedi explores the legend's off-screen life in his intimate new photographic memoir, My Elizabeth, which contains many never-before-published pictures and fascinating glimpses into the woman behind the movie marquees, multiple husbands and precious jewels.

Among the anecdotes is the story of a 1976 summer day when Taylor was visiting Andy Warhol's Montauk, New York, beach house and decided to hitch a ride into town. "Let's hitchhike!" she suggested to Zahedi.

What Happened the Day Elizabeth Taylor Went Hitchhiking – and Other Stories from Her Hidden Life| Books, Movie News, Elizabeth Taylor

Firooz Zahedi shared intimate photos he took of Elizabeth Taylor during their 35-year friendship. She is pictured here in 1997 at an Oscar party at her home

Firooz Zahedi / My Elizabeth / Glitterati Incorporated





It didn't take long for the actress, unrecognizable in a T-shirt and bell-bottom jeans, to score the duo a ride in the back of a pick-up truck. "See! It wasn't that hard, now was it?" she boasted to her companion.

For more on Elizabeth Taylor's surprising hidden life, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

Taylor and Zahedi's 35-year friendship began when Henry Kissinger tried to fix Taylor up with Zahedi's diplomat cousin. She walked in the door wearing jeans and espadrilles, the photographer tells PEOPLE in this week's issue.

What Happened the Day Elizabeth Taylor Went Hitchhiking – and Other Stories from Her Hidden Life| Books, Movie News, Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor at Atoka farm in Middleburg, Virginia

Firooz Zahedi / My Elizabeth / Glitterati Incorporated



What Happened the Day Elizabeth Taylor Went Hitchhiking – and Other Stories from Her Hidden Life| Books, Movie News, Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor and Firooz Zahedi at a mosque, en route to Isfahan, Iran, in May 1976

Arthur Bruckel / My Elizabeth / Glitterati Incorporated





Now, on the five-year anniversary of Tayor's death at age 79, Zahedi, 66, is paying homage to the star's softer side by publishing My Elizabeth, which will benefit her beloved Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.

The star often surprised people with her earthy playfulness, asking fellow guests at Warhol's beach house if she could join their softball game, says Zahedi.

"They didn't think she'd participate but she proved them all wrong by picking up a bat, which was nearly her own height, whacking the ball really hard and racing to first base with a triumphant smile."
blog comments powered by Disqus

From Our Partners