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Elizabeth Taylor In Memorium

Flowers Placed On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame Star Of Elizabeth Taylor
(Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

ELIZABETH TAYLOR

(February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011)

EARLY CAREER

  • Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in London, England in 1932 to American parents residing in the UK. Her family moved to the U.S. in 1939 and settled in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Taylor’s first movie was the Universal Pictures film There’s One Born Every Minute.  She was nine years old.
  • She appeared in Lassie Come Home when she was 10.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer then signed Taylor to a seven-year contract.
  • Taylor skyrocketed to fame when she starred in National Velvet at age 12, alongside Mickey Rooney.  The film grossed over $4 million at the box office and Taylor’s contract was extended.
  • She started playing adult roles in films when she was 16 years old; films included Conspirator, The Big Hangover, Father of the Bride, The Barefoot Contessa, Ivanhoe, Beau Brummel, The Girl Who Had Everything and A Place in the Sun.
  • Taylor was frustrated over not being offered enough serious roles.   That changed when she was cast in Giant in 1956 alongside Rock Hudson and James Dean.
  • After the death of husband Mike Todd, Taylor started a relationship with Eddie Fisher while he was still married to Debbie Reynolds.  She and Fisher married; the relationship ended when Taylor and Cleopatra co-star Richard Burton met.  The couple’s romance was highly publicized.
  • She went on to act opposite Burton in many films, including The Taming of the Shrew, Doctor Faustus, The Sandpiper and The Comedians.

AWARDS

  • Taylor was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress in Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer.
  • She became the highest paid actress of her time when she received a $1 million contract to play the title role in Cleopatra.
  • Taylor received her first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as Gloria Wandrous in BUtterfield 8. She also won that award for her role as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

LATER CAREER

  • Taylor appeared in several TV movies and miniseries.
  • She made her Broadway and West End debuts in 1982.  She starred in several productions including Noel Coward’s Private Lives and a revival of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes.
  • Taylor’s final theatrical film was The Flintstones in 1994.
  • Between the years of 1980 and 2003, she appeared on several television shows, including All My Children and General Hospital.  She also lent her voice to two episodes of The Simpsons.
  • Taylor was known for her extravagant taste in jewelry; she started designing fine jewelry for her own line, The Elizabeth Taylor Collection by Piranesi.  It is sold at Christie’s.
  • She has three fragrances- “Passion,” “White Diamonds” and “Black Pearls.”  Together they earn approximately $200 million in annual sales.  “White Diamonds” is one of the top 10 best-selling perfumes of the past decade.

CHARITY WORK AND HONORS

  • Taylor helped to found amFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research.  She also created her own charity organization, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.  She raised an estimated $50 million for AIDS research.
  • Taylor was awarded the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Academy Award in 1992 for her work fighting AIDS.
  • She was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1999.
  • In 2007 Taylor was inducted into the California Hall of Fame.

HEALTH ISSUES

  • In the 1980s, Taylor was treated for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Center.
  • In 2004, Taylor announced that she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure.  In the years following, she broke her back five times, had both hips replaced, survived surgeries to remove a benign brain tumor as well as skin cancer and battled life-threatening pneumonia twice.
  • Taylor began using a wheelchair; she said she suffered from osteoporosis and had been born with scoliosis.
  • In 2006, Taylor went on Larry King Live, where she denied claims that she suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
  • She had heart surgery in 2009.  In February of 2011 she was admitted into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for treatment.

PERSONAL LIFE

  • Taylor was known for her highly-publicized love life; she was married eight times to seven husbands:
  • Socialite and Hilton hotel heir Conrad “Nicky” Hilton (1950 – 1950) (divorced)
  • Actor Michael Wilding (1952 – 1957) (divorced)
  • Film producer Michael Todd (1957 – 1958) (widowed)
  • Singer Eddie Fisher (1959 – 1964) (divorced)
  • Actor Richard Burton (1964 – 1974) (divorced)
  • Richard Burton (1975 – 1976) (divorced)
  • Former senator John Warner (1976 – 1982) (divorced)
  • Construction worker Larry Fortensky (1991 – 1996) (divorced)
  • She also had four children, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
  • Two sons with Michael Wilding, Michael Howard Wilding (1953) and Christopher Edward Wilding (1955)
  • One daughter with Michael Todd, Elizabeth Frances “Liza” Todd (1957)
  • One daughter with Richard Burton, Maria Burton (adopted 1964)
  • Taylor was friends with pop star Michael Jackson. She married her last husband, construction worker Larry Fortensky, at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.  Jackson wrote a song for Taylor titled “Elizabeth, I Love You” and presented it to the actress at her 65th birthday.
  • In 2005, she showed her support for Jackson during his trial for child molestation.
  • Taylor was a convert to Judaism and a supporter of Kabbalah.
  • On Wednesday, March 23, 2011, Elizabeth Taylor died peacefully at Cedars-Sinai, surrounded by her four children.  She was 79 years old.

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