Elizabeth Taylor was a silver screen legend, humanitarian, lover of diamonds, and overwhelmingly, almost compulsively, liked to take the walk down the aisle. She was as well known for her personal relationships as she was for her legendary film roles, and on March 23, 2011 at the age of 79, Liz Taylor lost her long fight against congestive heart failure.
Although she began acting as a child, it was her role in the 1951 movie “A Place in the Sun” that propelled Taylor to fame, and became one of the pivotal roles of her career. One of, but not the only.
Over the years Taylor was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in movies like “Raintree County” in which she starred with Montgomery Clift, the classic “Cat on a hot Tin Roof” with Paul Newman, and “Suddenly, Last Summer” in which she again starred with Montgomery Clift.
In 1960 Taylor became the highest paid actress up until that time when she received $1 million to play the title role in “Cleopatra,” a movie that brought her more than just money. It was on that set that Taylor began a romance with Richard Burton, an actor playing the role of Mark Anthony, who would later become her husband; twice.
In the laundry list of Taylor’s husbands, which include Conrad Hilton, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd, Eddie Fisher, John Warner, and Larry Fortensky; Burton fell about in the middle. And although the couple gave it two tries without making it last, their love story became one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories.
But her love of diamonds almost surpassed her love of men, and in 1969 Burton purchased a stunning Pear shaped diamond for Taylor which weighed over 69 carats. Originally losing out at auction when the diamond sold for $1,050,000 and became considered the world’s first million dollar diamond, Burton privately purchased the diamond the very next day for his wife. It became known as the “Burton-Taylor Diamond” and made its first public appearance at Princess Grace of Monaco’s 40th birthday party.
Due to her close relationship with Rock Hudson, Taylor valiantly fought for a cure for HIV and AIDS; she helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research, as well as her own charity, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation. By 1999, it is estimated that the movie star has helped raise $50 million to help fight the disease.
In 2004 Taylor announced she was suffering from congestive heart disease, for which she underwent surgery for in 2009 to replace a leaky valve, and on March 23rd 2011 Taylor passed away in California’s Cedar Sinai Hospital surrounded by her children.
In her 79 years of life Taylor won the Academy Awards for Best Actress twice; once for “Butterfield 8” and again for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, was honored with the Jean Herscholt Humanitarian Academy Award for her work with AIDS, and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame. She was also loved more times than most people could ever hope for in one lifetime and was survived by her four children, ten grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.