I remember thinking when Kitty Kelley's book on Elizabeth Taylor came out entitled The Last Star that it didn't make sense. There were plenty of incredible superstars still living at that time, among them Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. I believe Gloria Swanson and Mae West had only just died.
But if the distinction is a lot less arguable today, let's argue it a bit: Who is left of Taylor's international stature?
I would argue that from her era or before, there are quite a few glamorous (Lauren Bacall, Olivia de Havilland, Joan Fontaine), beloved (Doris Day, Ernest Borgnine), cinematically important (Luise Rainer, going strong at 101; Kirk Douglas, Mickey Rooney, Celeste Holm, Sidney Poitier, Farley Granger), just plain long-lived/familiar (Zsa Zsa Gabor) and other stars, all of whom I would place a notch or more below Taylor for overall impact, but I can't think of any left who are her equals.
Angela Lansbury is sort of in a class by herself, being a film, theater and TV star who's still working past 85.
TV icons would include Betty White, Mary Tyler Moore, Dick Van Dyke and Carol Burnett. (I am potentially seeing Joyce Randolph from The Honeymooners today and Rose Marie next week!)
Doris Day is not only living, she's a living doll
(Sidebar: I wonder how many, if any. silent-era stars of any repute at all are still living?)
Going to the next generation, there are more—Barbra Streisand (only a bit more than 10 years younger than Taylor was!) and Cher spring to mind. There is a whole group of '60s and '70s stars now in their sixties, like Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Catherine Deneuve and Dustin Hoffman. And after that, I think you've got Madonna, Oprah Winfrey and, well, the pickings then get pretty slim when it comes to stars who made their biggest impacts in the 1980s or later.
Who springs to your mind as being among "the last stars?" I am quite certain I've forgotten many. At least...I hope I have!