Elizabeth Taylor is one of the few survivors from Hollywood's Golden Era. Her life has been an often-tragic fairy tale, with a revolving door of famous husbands, lovers, substance abuse, and scandals. She almost died at 29, but bounced back in time to win her first Oscar.
Taylor had that special something that made her more than just another pretty face on the silver screen. She possessed a rare beauty that made her a living definition of the term "movie star." She played that role to the hilt.
More recently, she has taken on the role of crusader in the battle against AIDS, and launched her own line of fragrances. Elizabeth Taylor is a living legend, truly a grand Dame of the cinema. Her personality has wavered between the confident, go for broke Elizabeth Taylor, and the self-loathing, fragile Liz, perhaps because she grew up in the constant gaze of the public spotlight. Having been through seven marriages indicates a lifelong quest for security. She isn't the greatest thespian of all time, but when she was matched with the proper role and director, she could be brilliant. Taylor's performances in 1951's A Place In The Sun , and especially as the self-destructive Martha in 1966's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? exhibit her often untapped talent as an actress.
If the young Elizabeth Taylor was an up and coming talent today, she'd probably be considered one of Hollywood's leading sex symbols. In her prime, Taylor possessed sultry, sexy features, a very voluptuous figure, and was very open about her passion for lovemaking.
Taylor was dating billionaire Howard Hughes, who was known for his liaisons with several hot, young Hollywood starlets, when she was just 17. Hughes could have had just about any woman he wanted back in the day, which is an indication of just how gorgeous young Liz was.
Her performance as the uber-sensual Maggie "The Cat" in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof is the epitome of Taylor's seductiveness.
Elizabeth Taylor has been famous since 1944, when she landed the leading role in National Velvet at the age of twelve.
She received three Academy Award nominations for Best Actress between 1957-1959, and although she didn't take home Oscar himself, the best was yet to come for the beautiful starlet.
During the 1960s, she won the coveted Oscar for Best Actress twice; for her role as a call girl in 1960's Butterfield 8 , and for her portrayal of the loudmouth, alcoholic Martha in 1966's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? , which also earned her the British Academy Award for Best Actress, as well as a New York Film Critics Circle prize. She also made history as the first actress to earn a cool million for a single movie appearance, for 1963's Cleopatra .
Taylor has been a leader in the fight against AIDS following the death of close friend Rock Hudson in 1985. She was presented with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 1992 Oscar ceremony for her support of AIDS research. A year later, she received the American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award.
The London-born actress was made a Dame by none other than Queen Elizabeth II in 2000. Dame Elizabeth became a recipient of the John F. Kennedy Center Honors in 2002. During her heyday (the 1950s and 60s), Elizabeth Taylor was known as the "world's most beautiful woman." Check out any image of Taylor during those years and it's not difficult to understand why she earned that particular description.
With her dark, raven hair, and strikingly gorgeous features, the younger Elizabeth Taylor was a sight to behold. Her velvety, violet eyes are the trademark of her beauty, and have a way of penetrating through the movie or television screen, making men worldwide melt in their seats. Taylor's style has always been elegant and classic; a bit on the conservative side, but never dull. She literally grew up in Hollywood during the 1940s and 50s, and her fashion sense reflects the time and place.
Taylor has had a passion for all things glittery since her early years. She owns the famous 33-carat Krupp diamond, and the legendary "LaPeregina Pearl."
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in London, England on February 27, 1932. Although her mother had a brief career stint as a stage actress in the US, her parents were actually art dealers from St. Louis, Missouri and relocated to London to open a gallery. Eventually, the Taylors moved back to the States and settled in Los Angeles just before war broke out in Europe in 1939.
Following a screen test for Universal Studios, nine-year-old Elizabeth was signed to a contract, and made her screen debut at in 1942's There's One Born Every Minute . She was signed to MGM in 1942, and it was there that she had early success as a child actor.
In 1944, at the tender age of 12, Elizabeth landed her first lead role in National Velvet . The film established the young girl with the sparkling, violet eyes as a bona fide star. More parts followed and by 1949, she had graduated to her first adult role, as the romantic lead in Conspirator .
Elizabeth was a grown 18-year-old when she married hotel heir Nicky Hilton in May 1950, the same year she starred in the classic, Father of the Bride . Hilton was the first in a series of seven husbands, and the marriage lasted less than nine months. In 1951, while on loan to Paramount, she received her first serious notice by critics for her performance in A Place In The Sun , directed by George Stevens.
Elizabeth Taylor received her first Oscar nod as Best Actress for 1957's Rain tree County . Four days before the ceremony, Todd, flying in his private plane named "The Lucky Liz," was killed when the plane crashed over New Mexico.
Taylor had already begun working on her next film, appearing as Maggie "The Cat" in 1958's Cat On A Hot Tin Roof , opposite newcomer Paul Newman, and received a second Oscar nomination.
It wasn't long after mourning the loss of husband number three that Taylor wed again. Eddie Fisher had been a popular singer in the early 1950s. He was one of the late Mike Todd's closest friends, and best man at Liz and Mike's wedding. He divorced actress Debbie Reynolds to marry Liz, and the press vilified Elizabeth for having broken up their marriage when the couple wed in May 1959.
That same year, Taylor received a third Oscar nomination for 1959's Suddenly, Last Summer . While Oscar eluded her for a third time, she was honored with the Golden Globe for Best Actress.
For her next role, Taylor reluctantly starred as a prostitute in 1960's Butterfield 8 , fulfilling contractual obligations to MGM. Again she was nominated for Best Actress by the Motion Picture Academy, but few, including Liz herself, thought she could win with this role.
Taylor was in London filming Cleopatra when she became seriously ill and needed an emergency tracheotomy in order to save her life. Taylor survived, and a few weeks later, showed up at the Oscar ceremony. To the astonishment of many, her name was announced as the winner in her category. Elizabeth hobbled up to the stage on crutches, with the surgical scar still visible on her throat.
Cleopatra was the most expensive film ever produced up to that point and making Hollywood history, Elizabeth Taylor became the highest paid movie star when she asked for and received a million dollars to star as the Queen of the Nile. It was also on the set of that film where she met her future fifth husband, Richard Burton.
Liz and Dick were hounded by the media, particularly the tabloid press. Hollywood's golden couple teamed up once again for 1965's The Sandpiper and in 1966's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? . It was an unglamorous role in which Taylor played an overweight, loudmouth alcoholic. Both Taylor and Burton were nominated by the Academy for their highly intense performances and Elizabeth took home her second Oscar for the role. She next appeared with Marlon Brando in Reflections In A Golden Eye in 1967. That same year, she reunited with Burton for the drama The Comedians .
In 1972, Taylor was awarded the Best Actress prize at the Berlin Film Festival for her part in Hammersmith Is Out .
The title of Taylor and Burton's next project proved prophetic. In 1972, the pair starred in a made-for-TV movie entitled Divorce His - Divorce Hers . In June 1974, after ten years of marriage, the star couple divorced. Sixteen months later, they remarried; ten months after that, they were divorced for a second time. In December 1976, Liz married husband number six, Virginia Senator John Warner; they divorced in 1982.
Taylor appeared in a handful of feature films over the next several years, including 1980's The Mirror Crack's , in which she played an aging movie star. Throughout the 1980s, Taylor appeared in several made-for-TV movies, including 1985's Malice In Wonderland and 1987's Poker Alice .
In 1985, Taylor became the chairperson for the first major AIDS benefit. Her crusade in the fight against the disease intensified following the death of her close friend Rock Hudson later that year.
Taylor became the voice of Maggie Simpson in a 1992 episode of The Simpsons , when Maggie uttered her first word. She received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 1992 Oscar ceremony and took home the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1993. Taylor returned to the big screen to play Fred's mother-in-law, Pearl Slaghoople, in 1994's feature film The Flintstones .
In February 1997, Taylor experienced another health scare when she underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. One of Taylor's more recent performances was in 2001, when she appeared in the made-for-TV movie These Old Broads along with Shirley MacLaine and Debbie Reynolds, whose marriage she had broken up some four decades prior. Two years after being made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, Elizabeth Taylor received the Kennedy Center Honors.
With a career and life marked by tragedy, success, irony, and ups and downs, Elizabeth Taylor is a veritable movie legend.