Elizabeth Taylor (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011), actress, humanitarian.

Elizabeth Taylor was one of the most popular and successful actresses that Hollywood ever produced. Born in England to American parents from Kansas, she held dual citizenship. The tense situation in Europe that led up to World War II led her parents to move to California in 1939. Her striking physical presence, even as a child, led to many child film roles, such as Lassie Come Home, Jane Eyre, and National Velvet, which shot her to instant fame. Her last role as a child star was in Little Women.

Taylor struggled for a couple of years to make the transition to adult roles before finding success in Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy. She followed this with such classic films as A Place in the Sun (with Montgomery Clift), Giant (with Rock Hudson and James Dean), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (with Paul Newman), and BUtterfield 8 (with her husband, Eddie Fisher), for which Taylor earned an Oscar for Best Actress.

Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor in "The Taming of the Shrew"

Taylor was almost as famous for her many marriages as she was for her film work. Her husbands included hotel heir Conrad Hilton, actor Michael Wilding, movie producer Michael Todd, singer Eddie Fisher, and Senator John Warner. However, she is best remembered for her two marriages to noted British actor Richard Burton. The two met while filming Cleopatra, Taylor’s signature role. The couple went on to make ten more films together, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, (which earned Taylor her second Best Actress Oscar), Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, and the made-for-TV film Divorce His, Divorce Hers, as well as a stage version of Noel Coward’s Private Lives.

 

Although her star power decreased starting in the 1970’s, she continued to appear in films, including Stephen Sondheim’s musical A Little Night Music and Agatha Christie’s The Mirror Crack’d. Her last movie role was in the live action film The Flintstones in 1994. Taylor made her Broadway and London West End debut in 1982 in Lillian Hellman’s Little Foxes. She also appeared in many television shows, including the daytime soaps All My Children and General Hospital, as well as the miniseries North and South and two appearances on The Simpsons. She also starred in the made-for-tv movie These Old Broads in 2001, alongside Debbie Reynolds, Shirley MacLaine, and Joan Collins.

 

Taylor with Michael Jackson

In her later years, Taylor was well-known as an activist and fund-raiser for AIDS related charities and events. She created a foundation for AIDS research and endowed several hospitals. She also produced her own line of jewelry and perfume. She was well-known as one of the closest friends to pop star Michael Jackson. Elizabeth Taylor suffered from many physical problems throughout her life, including five broken backs, hip replacements, a brain tumor, osteoporosis, and congestive heart failure, which plagued her for the last 7 years of her life and finally led to her death. As she reflected on her struggles in life, she said:

 

“It is strange that the years teach us patience; that the shorter our time, the greater our capacity for waiting… I’m a survivor – a living example of what people can go through and survive.”

Advertisements