Elizabeth Taylor, the violet-eyed Tinseltown beauty known for her accomplished movie career as well as her controversial personal life, died Wednesday at age 79.
Best known for her Oscar-winning performances in 1960’s Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966, she starred in over 50 films, including National Velvet, Giant and Cleopatra. Born in London in 1932, Taylor became a child star by age 12, a divorcée at 18 and a widow at age 26. The Hollywood icon, the first actress to earn $1 million for a film, had eight marriages, including a scandalous union to Eddie Fisher, who left his wife Debbie Reynolds for Taylor. Reynolds’ daughter Carrie Fisher dubbed it the Angelina Jolie/Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston scandal of its day. Two of Taylor's marriages were to actor Richard Burton, whom she described as “the love of her life.”
When her acting career waned, she successfully entered the perfume business, buoyed by her signature fragrance White Diamonds. But in addition to her lengthy acting career, Taylor’s biggest legacy will likely be her tireless and pioneering efforts in AIDS awareness. Her endless work earned her a humanitarian Oscar in 1993. Taylor was also an outspoken, longtime friend of pop icon and superstar Michael Jackson, and the actress stood loyally by him throughout the troubled times in his career.
In recent years, the screen legend suffered with failing health, yet managed to have a sense of humor about being an aging, sometimes ailing sex symbol. Taylor told W magazine, “My body’s a real mess if you look at it in the mirror, and it’s just completely convex and concave.”
The actress passed with her family by her side at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. She is survived by four children and 10 grandchildren.
(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)