Elizabeth Taylor, the Hollywood icon and Oscar-winner who was practically born in the spotlight, died Wednesday morning. She was 79.
“She was surrounded by her children – Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd and Maria Burton,” Taylor’s publicist, Sally Morrison, said in a statement. In addition to her children, Taylor is survived by 10 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
On Feb. 11, it was announced that she had been in taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles earlier that week for symptoms caused by congestive heart failure, and around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, she “peacefully died there,” according to her publicist. “Though she had recently suffered a number of complications, her condition had stabilized and it was hoped that she would be able to return home. Sadly, this was not to be.”
A stunning beauty with mesmerizing violet eyes and a double set of eyelashes, Taylor was catapulted to superstardom as a child, though she lived larger than life both on screen and off even long after she had retired from movies and became a perfume mogul.
Among the very last of MGM’s stable of stars groomed for a life before the public, Taylor helped define the term “Jet Set” in the ’60s, just as her charitable works, starting in the ’80s, often outshone her remarkable jewelry collection.
For Elizabeth Taylor, nothing was ordinary – including her medical battles.
For the past several years she had suffered ill health, though to the very end she was a tireless advocate for AIDS research.
In 1993, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, in recognition of her charity work, presented Taylor with its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Born in Hampstead, England, the second child of Francis Taylor, an American art gallery owner working abroad, and his wife Sara Sothern, who was a former actress, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor moved with her family to Los Angeles before the start of World War II.
Life On Screen
Her movie debut was in 1942’s There’s One Born Every Minute, and she appeared with lifelong friend Roddy McDowall in 1943’s Lassie Come Home. But it was 1944’s National Velvet that brought her stardom – at age 12.
Her more notable pictures as an adult included Father of the Bride, A Place in the Sun, Giant, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and two for which she won Best Actress Oscars: Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
With 1963’s Cleopatra, the dark beauty with the violet eyes became the first Hollywood star to earn a $1 million salary.
The $46 million spectacle, though dismissed by critics, also teamed her with the actor who would become her 4th and 5th husband: Richard Burton.
The beauty was not only known for her string of movie roles and generous charitable contributions: Her storied personal life, which included eight marriages and seven husbands, added to Taylor s status as a true Hollywood legend.
Her other husbands (before Burton) were hotel heir Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, actor Michael Wilding, producer Michael Todd, singer Eddie Fisher and (after Burton) U.S. Senator John Warner and construction worker Larry Fortensky.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that contributions be made to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Details of a memorial service will be announced at a later date.