Stunning Photos from Elizabeth Taylor's Private World
"Her heart was huge," Elizabeth Taylor's granddaughter Laela Wilding, pictured here with the actress as an infant (she's now 45), tells PEOPLE. "She had such a huge impact with her activism and she was so full of life and love. She made a big impact on us." Photos such as this are featured in the new book My Elizabeth, created by the screen legend's friend Firooz Zahedi. In this week's PEOPLE, the photographer gives a first look at the intimate shots, and Wilding reflects on her grandmother's legacy.
"I remember Mom fixing those flowers in my hair and setting such a warm, loving, fiery tone for the evening," says Aileen Getty (at the 1980 party for her engagement to Elizabeth's son Christopher Wilding; they divorced in 1989).
"She didn't give a damn about looking camera-ready," says Zahedi, 66. “She was very low-key, very hippie, very sweet. And maternal too – like your fantasy mother, the one who lets you do fun things."
Taylor (pictured at sixth husband John Warner's Virginia farm in '77) was not very domestic, but was capable with her mom's fried chicken recipe – "Elizabeth's favorite food next to caviar," Zahedi recalls.
Taylor's hairdresser and personal assistant Arthur Bruckel (in Persepolis) tagged along with the actress on her '76 tour of Iran.
When Taylor (here in '96) "was in her mid 40s, they were not coming to her anymore with good roles," Zahedi says. "It was a tough period for her."
Taylor wrote in '06 that Zahedi’s images were of "happy days with just Firooz and me being good, bad, excited, playful."
Taylor (in '02) loved to entertain in her Bel Air backyard. "There was always music playing," Zahedi says. "Here a song came on that she liked, so she started dancing for the camera."
Taylor could be very silly and "laugh her head off," says Zahedi.
Taylor's Maltese, Sugar (in Cannes in 1993), traveled the world with her. "I love that photo of Elizabeth dozing. She is so totally in peace," says Zahedi. For more photos, pick up the March 7 issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.