Posts Tagged ‘died aged 79’

Elizabeth Taylor dies aged 79

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor, has died at 79, her publicist told CNN Wednesday.

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born February 27, 1932, in London, the daughter of two wealthy American art dealers, Francis and Sara Taylor. Her mother was a former actress who had given up the career when she married, but encouraged her daughter in the pursuit. Indeed, Elizabeth Taylor and her mother were to remain extremely close until the latter’s death in 1994, at age 99.

The legendary actress who was famed for her beauty, her jet-set lifestyle, her charitable endeavors and her many marriages died “peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles,” said a statement from her publicist. She was hospitalized six weeks ago with congestive heart failure, “a condition with which she had struggled for many years.

Though a two-time Oscar winner — for “Butterfield 8” (1960) and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1966) — Taylor was more celebrated for simply being Elizabeth Taylor: sexy, glamorous, tempestuous, fragile, always trailing courtiers, media and fans.

She was known for her generosity and love of life and never really took her own image too seriously.

“I am a very committed wife,” she once said. “And I should be committed too — for being married so many times.”

Hailed as the world’s most beautiful and desirable woman when she was in her prime, her tempestuous affair with actor Richard Burton, fueled a paparazzi rush unrivaled in its time.
Taylor and Burton met on the set of the film “Cleopatra,”  and the two later married and divorced – twice.  Taylor demanded $1 million — the highest fee demanded by an actress up to that time.

She reputedly gave her best performance as the shrewish, plain, embittered opposite Richard Burton in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (1966) and starred in “Giant” (1956), “Raintree County” (1957), “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958), “The Sandpiper” (1965) and “Reflections in a Golden Eye” (1967).

Taylor was a champion for a number of charitable causes, notably the fight against AIDS. She founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation after the death of her friend Rock Hudson. The BBC once noted that her charity work had grossed as much as her film career.

Taylor made her debut for Universal, which placed her in 1942’s “There’s One Born Every Minute.” Taylor was then signed by MGM, which was to be her home for almost two decades, and made “Lassie Come Home,” opposite Roddy McDowall.  The actor became a devoted friend.

1944’s “National Velvet,” made the young Taylor a star. The story of a girl in love with her horse earned her public adulation and at 18 had her first hit as an adult, the classic “Father of the Bride,” in which she played Spencer Tracy’s soon-to-be-married daughter.

She was married soon after to Conrad Nicky Hilton for 8 months in 1950, then to actor Michael Wilding in 1952, a marriage that lasted five years and produced two children.  Taylor then married Mike Todd a week after her divorce from Wilding.

In 1960, Taylor was offered the lead in 20th Century Fox’s production of “Cleopatra.” The movie seemed gripped by a curse. Taylor’s illnesses forced casting changes and prompting the production to move from London to Rome. The original director, Rouben Mamoulian, was forced out and replaced by Joseph Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”).   Richard Burton, who was cast as Marc Antony when Stephen Boyd had to leave the production. Weather wiped out days of filming pushing the budget, which was originally about $5 million, to $44 million.  In real terms the movie cost more than “Avatar” to film.

Burton, was widely known for his philandering had initially thought little of Taylor beyond her beauty, was quickly smitten:

“He tried to end it, but he kept turning around and coming back to her,” Mankiewicz’s son Tom told Taylor biographer William J. Mann. “He just couldn’t help himself. He couldn’t get enough of her.”

The two were inseparable prompting Burton’s long-suffering wife, Sybil  to file for divorce.  The Vatican released a message directed at her, saying she was guilty of “erotic vagrancy.” A U.S. congresswoman introduced a bill banning Taylor and Burton — or “Liz ‘n’ Dick,” as they were becoming known — from the United States. In response, Taylor asserted, “I will never go back to America.”

They wed in 1964 and Burton showered Taylor with jewels, furs, baubles. Burton’s tour of “Hamlet” sold out and their movies together — “The V.I.P.s,” “The Sandpiper,” even the grim, groundbreaking “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” — were hits, the latter also nominated for 10 Oscars.

The actress’ career languishedfaltered as she entered her 40s as did her marriage to Burton; the two divorced in 1974, and though they remarried the next year, a union that ended nine months later.

In 1985, she organized a benefit dinner to raise money for her friend Rock Hudson, who was dying of AIDS, that led to the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR); in 1991, she began the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation.

She had more health woes: a trip to the Betty Ford Clinic in the late ’80s — where she met Fortensky — as well as a brain tumor and severe back problems. The latter put her in a wheelchair.

She remained indomitable.  She even joined Twitter to send regular updates on her life.

Why not? She was born to the spotlight, and no amount of tittle-tattle was going to take it away.

Nicky Hilton: hotel-chain heir
Michael Wilding: actor
Michael Todd: producer
Eddie Fisher: singer
Richard Burton: actor
Richard Burton: actor (again)
John Warner: Became U.S. senator because of being married to Elizabeth Taylor
Larry Fortensky: trucker

Nicky HiltonMichael WildingMichael ToddEddie FisherRichard BurtonJohn WarnerLarry Fortensky

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