Photo: ELizabeth Taylor 02-27-1932 03-23-2011
Elizabeth Taylor, the violet eyed twice Best Actress Oscar winner passed away surrounded by her children at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in the city of Los Angeles.
“My Mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love,” Taylor’s son, Michael Wilding, said in a statement. “Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts.”
Dame Elizabeth Taylor was born on February 27th 1932 in Hampstead, England to American Parents. The family relocated to Los Angeles, where the nine year old was discovered by studio executives and shot her first film, There’s One Born Every Minute.
By age 12, Taylor was a successful film star having lead a long list of box office successes like, National Velvet, where she plays a young girl training her show horse for a Grand National Jumping competition.
Not something many teen stars these days can say, her transition into onscreen adulthood was incredibly successful, landing several Academy Award nominations for classic films like Raintree Country, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer.
But it wasn’t until 1961 when she received her first Oscar for Butterfield 8. Taylor is one of 11 actresses who won two leading actress Oscars, the other one for her brutally astounding performance of Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf? opposite Richard Burton.
Burton and Taylor popularized Puerto Vallarta, Mexico as a tourist spot, after their 1964 Night of the Iguana film. Burton purchased a house dubbed “Casa Kimberley,” with an ocean view to the Bay of Banderas for Taylors 32nd birthday.
Many say that Burton, who died in 1984 at age 58 of a cerebral hemorrhage, was the great love of Taylor’s life, a love life unlike many: she had a fling with director Howard Hughes, wed hotelier Nicky Hilton when she was 18, then actor Michael Wilding, who she would then do a quickie-divorce in Acapulco to marry producer Michael Todd. Several days after obtaining the quickie Mexican divorce she married Todd in a firework studded wedding performed by the mayor of Acapulco and attended by Mexican humorist Cantinflas.
Taylor then divorced Mike Todd, and married singer Eddie Fisher, to whom she was married when she met Burton. Following her union to Burton, Taylor married Sen. John Warner and construction worker Larry Fortensky, whom she met at the Betty Ford Center in 1988 when they were both battling drug dependencies. Longtime friend Michael Jackson escorted Taylor down the aisle at her 1991 nuptials to Fortensky at Neverland Ranch. The pair divorced in 1996.
Her AIDS work brought her the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian award, in 1987 and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth made her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, an honor on the level of knighthood.
Randy Shilts, who wrote the pioneering AIDS chronicle “And the Band Played On,” said Taylor made a profound difference.
“Elizabeth Taylor got AIDS on ‘Entertainment Tonight,’ and you can’t underestimate the value of that kind of exposure,” Shilts said. “It made the disease something that respectable people could talk about.”
Through her various efforts she would eventually raise more than $270 million for AIDS prevention and care.
“AIDS is both my passion and my obsession,” Taylor said. “I was there at the beginning, and I pray I’ll be there at the end.”
Taylor is survived by four children, Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd, and Maria Burton; 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
A private family funeral will be held later this week. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.