Legendary Actress Elizabeth Taylor Dies at Age 79
By PopEater Staff Posted Mar 23rd 2011 09:00AM
Elizabeth Taylor, whose acting talent and made-for-tabloids personal life made her one of Hollywood's most alluring and lasting figures, died Wednesday at age 79. Taylor's publicist, Sally Morrison, confirmed that the actress died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for six weeks.
Taylor's four children, Michael and Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd and Maria Burton, were by her side at the end.
"My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor and love," Michael Wilding said in a statement. "We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts."
The 'Cleopatra' star underwent heart surgery in 2009, and was hospitalized in February for heart failure.
In a recent Harper's Bazaar interview with super-fan Kim Kardashian, Taylor opened up about her many husbands, jewels and philanthropic work.
A True Hollywood Legend
Elizabeth Taylor, a larger than life Hollywood starlet known for her immeasurable acting talent and large appetite for fame and husbands, has died at age 79 after a long illness. The beautiful star had been hospitalized for six weeks with congestive heart failure.
Liz Taylor: True Hollywood Legend
Taylor made her on-screen debut at the age of nine in the film 'There's One Born Every Minute,' but she first came to national attention in the film 'Lassie Come Home' opposite lifelong friend Roddy McDowall. Her star-making role, however, came a few years later when a then-12-year-old Taylor took on the titular role of Velvet Brown in 1944's 'National Velvet' -- a film that in 2003 was selected for entry into the prestigious National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
After a string of successful films as a teenager, Taylor transitioned to adult roles with turns in hits like 'Father of the Bride' (1950) and George Stevens' 'A Place in the Sun' (1951), co-starring Montgomery Clift. Her well-reviewed turn in 'Place' established Taylor as an actress to be reckoned with and propelled her into more dramatic fair, including the 1956 epic 'Giant,' opposite James Dean and Rock Hudson, and 'Raintree County,' the 1957 film that earned her the first of five career Best Actress Oscar nominations.
See a collection of Liz Taylor clips:
In 1963's 'Cleopatra':
Liz in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'
An early role in 'National Velvet':
Speaking about Michael Jackson:
By 1960, Taylor was arguably the most famous actress in the world, a status reflected by her paycheck for 20th Century Fox's 'Cleopatra,' Joseph Mankiewicz's massive telling of the love affair between the legendary queen of Egypt and Roman warrior Marc Anthony (Richard Burton). Taylor was paid $1 million for the part, making her the highest paid actress in the world and the first ever to be paid a million dollars for a single role. The production of 'Cleopatra' was famously troubled -- Taylor became very ill on set and required a tracheotomy to save her life, and the production ran enormously over budget following production delays, swelling the budget to $44 million (roughly equal to $310 million today). When the film was finally released in 1963, it became that year's highest grossing film, though with $26 million in grosses, it failed to recoup its cost.
Remember Liz with PopEater:
Taylor won her first Best Actress Oscar for her turn in 1960's 'BUtterfield 8,' which co-starred her then-husband Eddie Fisher. The star famously left Fisher for her 'Cleopatra' co-star Burton, which at the time was perhaps the biggest celebrity scandal in history. Burton and Taylor would go on to make several films together, including 'The V.I.P.s' (1963), 'The Sandpiper' (1965), 'The Taming of the Shrew' (1967), 'Doctor Faustus' (1967), 'The Comedians' (1967)' 'Boom!' (1968), 'Under Milk Wood' (1972) and 'Hammersmith Is Out' (1972).
The pair's most acclaimed film was far and away 1966's Mike Nichols-directed classic 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?' The film brought Taylor her second Best Actress Academy Award for her turn as Martha opposite Burton's George in the adaptation of the famed Edward Albee play.
Though Taylor's film career began to taper in the late '70s, she continued to appear periodically in a variety of well-received TV movies and miniseries. She was featured in 'North and South' (1985) and 'Sweet Bird of Youth' (1987), famously voiced Lisa Simpsons' first word on 'The Simpsons' and more recently appeared in 'These Old Broads' (2001) with Debbie Reynolds and Shirley MacLaine.
Taylor's last theatrical film was the hit 1994 live-action remake of 'The Flintstones,' in which she played Wilma's meddling mother, Pearl Slaghoople.
In her later years, when acting roles became less frequent, Taylor took an active role in numerous humanitarian causes, most notably AIDS research. In the early 1980s, the actress, alongside Dr. Michael S. Gottlieb, created the National AIDS Research Foundation in Los Angeles, which merged with the New York-based AIDS Medical Foundation in 1985 to become the American Foundation for AIDS Research, more commonly known as amfAR, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to evidence-based AIDS-related public policy, securing and raising funds for HIV/AIDS research, expanding access to care and treatment for all AIDS patients and protecting the civil rights of those livinig with the disease.
At the time of its creation, Taylor was named Founding National Chairman of amfAR. The organization continues to be one of the world's leading organizations dedicated to fighting the AIDS epidemic, and has raised nearly $325 million to fund its multifaceted mission. Taylor herself is said to have raised over $50 million for the cause.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, through her Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation, Taylor commissioned a 37-foot "Care Van" equipped with examination tables and other medical equipment and dispatched it to New Orleans to care for residents of the city suffering from HIV/AIDS. She also donated $40,000 to the New Orleans Aids Task Force.
More: Stars Remember Her on Twitter | Her Best Roles
Liz Taylor Snapshots
British born actor Elizabeth Taylor and her fourth husband American singer and actor Eddie Fisher arrive at a formal event, c. 1962. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
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