February 08, 1988 12:00 PM

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor, in any form, is a lady of class, talent, dignity, warmth and beauty. I had never seen her vulnerability until her story in your magazine (PEOPLE, Jan. 18). She expressed herself eloquently and invited readers to reflect upon their own frailty and the frailty of others. Since I have recently lost more than 20 lbs., I can empathize with Miss Taylor’s “before” and “after” feelings. She’s first on my list to invite to lunch (chicken salad and low-calorie dressing). I salute you, Miss Taylor.

Elizabeth Simmons

Tomball, Texas

I have read about Elizabeth Taylor all my life and, until your recent story, never once admired her. I always considered her spoiled, opinionated, unrealistic and overly theatrical, but if she truly wrote the words on those pages, she’s changed. Her realistic attitude toward Joan Rivers was proof to me that she’s really gotten her stuff together. Now, for the first time, I can admire her character as much as her beauty.

Roberta Walsh

N. Fort Myers, Fla.

Why is it that in Hollywood someone can get fat, lose 60 lbs., write a book about it and then make millions of dollars, and all I get is a new pair of jeans?

Laura Courtney-Greene

Farmingdale, N.Y.

Gary Dotson

Granted, if Gary Dotson did not commit the rape, he was given a rotten deal. But he has been given more chances to straighten out his life than any human being deserves to get. He not only had the opportunity, but he also had the money to get help, and he blew it. Maybe a little more time in jail for him to think about his life and what he wants to do with it is what he needs.

Gisella Flaim

Aurora, Ill.

Although you printed a fine article, I think Gary Dotson’s position should be put in the starkest possible terms. He never raped Cathleen Crowell Webb, which she admitted. Yet he served six years in prison. Then, because Gov. James Thompson didn’t want to admit that the Illinois justice system screwed up, he put Dotson on parole. Now Dotson may go back to prison to complete a sentence for a crime he didn’t commit and for petty misbehaviors that would send no one else to jail for a night, especially in Illinois. A lot of people have problems similar to Gary Dotson’s, but not everyone has a Governor mad at him for making the state justice system look bad. Gary Dotson might be a loser, but he is being persecuted unfairly. I was born and raised in Illinois. It is not a friendly place, as Mr. Dotson found out.

Jennifer Samarah

Wichita, Kans.

Branford Marsalis

I was so excited to see your article on Branford Marsalis. I went to grammar school with him. He used to sit right next to me in the eighth grade. After I read the article, I called some of our old school friends to tell them about it. Well, needless to say, everyone ran out and bought the magazine. Imagine a classmate of ours in PEOPLE. We can all remember seeing that horn and not knowing what it was. (Ha, ha.) But all kidding aside, if you’re reading this, Branford, we wish you all the best of luck.

Kelly Quinn Johns

Kenner, La.

Patrick Bissell

I was going through the checkout lane at the grocery store when I saw your magazine and the blaring headline. I couldn’t believe my eyes—Patrick Bissell was dead. It has been five years since I worked with him and Gelsey Kirkland on a production of Swan Lake. At that time their cocaine escapades were well known among the cast and crew, and their performance reflected it. We were ashamed and shocked to see such incredible talent wasted and abused. I thank God Miss Kirkland rose out of the ashes before it was too late. I shall remember both of them fondly now that I better understand that the classic tragedies they performed were the real tragedies they lived.

Lydia Clibon

Garrett, Ind.

Patricia Bissell has no one to blame but herself for her son’s tragic death. Patrick Bissell’s very sad life is an example of the devastating, long-term effects of child abuse, both physical and verbal. With a mother who was mentally unfit to raise children, poor Patrick was doomed from the day he was born.

Teresa Thompson

Albany, N.Y.

If it is not AIDS that is killing our wonderful, artistic and talented people, it is drug abuse. What a waste. When is it ever going to end?

Hendrik Hulshoff

Santa Rosa, Calif.

Picks & Pans

If David Hiltbrand envisioned “a meadow festooned with ribbons blowing in the wind” when he listened to Robbie Robertson’s album, he must have been playing the record backwards. Instead of meadows, I could smell the steamy Southern night in “Somewhere Down the Crazy River,” feel the sensuous love in “Broken Arrow” and taste the dust of the revival tent in “Testimony.” Hiltbrand also adds that Robertson’s album doesn’t have “much to grab listeners the way pop albums are designed to do.” Thank God. Music hasn’t touched me like this in years.

Christine Moen

Bettendorf, Iowa

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