Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011)

20th Century Hollywood icon and two-time Oscar winner Dame Elizabeth Taylor has passed away at the age of 79. The “Cleopatra” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” star had been battling a long history of health issues including congestive heart failure, which she had been receiving treatments for since 2004.

Taylor broke onto the scene at the young age of 12 in “National Velvet,” the story of a girl attempting to tame and train a wild but promising horse for England’s Grand National Sweepstakes. Her prime came in the late ’50s and ’60s when she was nominated for an Oscar four years in a row from 1958-1961. She won in ’61 for playing a seductive model/call girl in “Butterfield 8” and again in 1967 for her least glamorous but perhaps most famous role in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”

Taylor’s legacy off the screen remains as significant as her many fine performances. She was one of the first Hollywood tabloid magnets for her often scandalous love life that included eight marriages, two to actor and frequent co-star Richard Burton. Their relationship was one of the biggest in Hollywood at the time.

Burton and Taylor met while working on the notoriously expensive film “Cleopatra,” a film that— adjusted for inflation — would have cost $297 million or more today. The would collaborate on screen 11 more times, one of which was for “Virginia Woolf.” They were married for 10 years the first time from 1964-1974, split for 15 months and were back together for 10 months from 1975-76.

Taylor’s other marriages were to Conrad Hilton Jr. (1950-51), Michael Wilding (1952-57), Michael Todd (1957-58 — his death), Eddie Fischer (1959-1964), John Warner (1976-1982) and Larry Fortensky (1991-1996). She gave birth to three children, two with Wilding and one with Todd. She later adopted a fourth with Burton.

Her health problems began most noticeably as early as 1961 when she survived a serious and uncommon bout of pneumonia. She dealt with alcohol and drug addiction as well in the subsequent years. In the ’90s, she survived another spell of pneumonia along with two hip replacements and surgery for a benign brain tumor. In the 2000s, she was treated for skin cancer and most recently congestive heart failure.

Although her legacy will undoubtedly feature the many vibrant scandals of her personal life, they will not overshadow her body of work and the spotlight she so expertly and effortlessly filled.

Source: BBC News, imdb


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