From multiple near-death experiences to a whole lot of lover’s quarrels, one word you could never use to describe this actress’s life is “boring.” From her many marriages and dramas to her achievements and humanitarian endeavors, let’s shed some light on the incredible life of one of Hollywood’s most talented and interesting actresses.
She Was Born in England
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor DBE may have made a name for herself in Tinseltown during the peak years of her life. But it turns out that the actress's origins can be traced back to a completely different part of the world. Believe it or not, but Elizabeth Taylor was born far away from Hollywood, in London, England.
She was born on February 27, 1932, to her American mom and dad, Sara and Francis. She and her mother moved to Los Angeles in 1939, when Taylor was 7, to escape the impending war, while her father stayed behind for a few months to close the family’s art gallery.
Have you heard of the classic saying "Like mother, like daughter?" Sure, there is "like father, like son," but the same can also be said for the women of the family too. Elizabeth Taylor’s infamous affair with co-star Richard Burton initially disappointed the public, but she’d learned the behavior from her mother, Sara, a former actress herself.
According to the rumor mill, Sara was having an extramarital relationship with Louis B. Mayer — the boss at MGM. When Elizabeth was a teenager, she witnessed something happen between the two that nearly led her to tears. And history ended up repeating itself.
Her Boss Was a Nightmare
Having a terrible boss is something that a lot of people can relate to in life. However, maybe not so much in the overly powerful, way-too-extreme Hollywood way. In this specific situation, we're talking about the time when Taylor’s boss, Mayer, treated her and others under his command, to put it lightly.
In fact, there was one day when she witnessed him basically “using words I’d never even heard before,” she said. Of course, those types also really do not like anyone talking back to them – which is exactly what the young starlet did when she told him and the studio exactly where they could go.
Louis B. Mayer was by no means anyone’s favorite person in Hollywood. He actually came to acquire the nickname, “The Monster of MGM.” Why? This is mainly in part due to the way he treated everyone around him. One day, a young Elizabeth Taylor witnessed him berating and cursing her mother.
Unlike some stars, she was not going to take that kind of treatment lightly. So, what was her reaction when he started belittling her mother right in front of her and everyone else in the vicinity? She told him to “go to hell.” There's no denying that she was truly fearless.
It should come as no surprise that Elizabeth Taylor hosted some grand dinner parties in her day. But some dinners were more memorable than others. One such dinner was almost lethal, when a friend and fellow actor, Montgomery Clift, got into a terrible car accident after leaving the star's house one evening in 1956.
The actor apparently fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into a telephone pole. Liz would arrive on the scene just a few minutes later. At the time of the accident, he was in the middle of filming "Raintree County" so production had to be delayed by several weeks until his recovery.
The accident occurred just minutes after the actor left his friend’s house in Beverly Hills. He was leading a line of other partygoers who had just left as well. Suddenly, others saw him wind the curve and lose control of his vehicle. Elizabeth was on the scene just moments later, climbing through the shattered back window of her friend’s car.
She stayed until the ambulances arrived on the scene. With the medical staff, the media showed up as well, to which she said that if they took any pictures of his bloody face, she would never let them take another of her again.
Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift were great friends. And while this was clear for everyone to see, some speculated that Elizabeth wanted him to be more than just a friend. They filmed a passionate scene together for "A Place in the Sun" and were praised for how natural their chemistry was.
There was a popular rumor that spread through Hollywood that Clift was either bisexual or gay, which his brother ended up confirming. The two remained friends until he passed away in 1966. Whether something ever happened between them, we will never know, but you do have to admit they look great together.
Her First Marriage
Elizabeth Taylor’s first marriage was to hotel heir, Conrad Hilton – and it was certainly no match made in heaven. His out-of-control gambling, and vicious behavior, made the eight months they were married feel like an eternity in hell. To make matters even worse, it was revealed that the entire thing was set up by the Hilton family and MGM Studios.
To the world, the mistreatment she suffered at the hands of this man was a giant publicity stunt, but for her, it was actual life. She’d initially gone along with that because he seemed like a good guy, but she soon learned otherwise.
It makes you wonder how often Hollywood pulls this silly idea of coercing young couples into relationships to promote films. In this case, Elizabeth Taylor had to endure this while making "Father of the Bride." Although the studio has never admitted to it, many have suspected that they were behind the entire event.
Eight months later, however, it would all come crashing down. Elizabeth had finally had enough, and Conrad Hilton’s behavior was scaring both her and her parents. The two called it quits and Elizabeth found herself going through her first divorce, but it would be one of many.
MGM Scare Tactics
When the young actress could no longer take any more of Conrad’s aggression and all-night rampages, the two opted for divorce. But MGM didn’t take the news very lightly. In fact, despite him being the problematic one, they were so upset about her leaving that they forced her to star in the 1952 film, "Love Is Better Than Ever."
That may not seem like some sort of punishment, but when you take into consideration the level her other films at the time were on, it does seem a bit strange for her to have done a B film as well.
Husband Number Two
Elizabeth Taylor’s second marriage lasted a bit longer than her first. Actually, it lasted quite a bit longer. While the first lasted for less than a year, she and her second husband, Michael Wilding, were married from 1952 until 1957. By our calculations, that's about five times longer than her time with Conrad Hilton.
And fans were shocked to learn that there was quite an age gap between the two stars. Michael Wilding was a British actor and was two decades older than the young actress. Apparently, Wilding was no prize by any means, but perhaps not for the reason you may think…
In the Closet
Wilding definitely was no Prince Charming to his wife, and there were plenty of rumors about him swirling around the mill. Aside from the fact he reportedly used to hire exotic dancers when she was out of town, something even more alarming was revealed by a certain columnist: Wilding actually preferred his meat with…well, extra meat.
The columnist claimed the actor was actually gay, and even tried to prevent Taylor from marrying him in the first place. But, regardless of whether or not it was actually true, the marriage was doomed anyway, and the two were on their way to divorce.
Party Like a Film Star
For Elizabeth’s 24th birthday in 1957, her third and newest husband Mike Todd threw her an enormous ceremony in Acapulco. The mayor of the town even officiated the event. Todd himself had been divorced twice before he and Elizabeth tied the knot and he was really hoping that this would be a case of "third time's a charm."
That seemed like a sign to both young lovers. For all intents and purposes, this should have been happily ever after for the couple. While the two were very happy for a short while, everything was about to once again come crashing down, maybe even literally, but not before something incredible happened.
Mike Todd was known for being a flashy kind of guy. He had built his fortune around rising up through poverty and was definitely a bit brazen. When he proposed to wife number three, he did so with a whopping 29.4-carat emerald cut diamond. There was no denying that Taylor was completely taken aback.
Even though Elizabeth had money of her own, some speculated that she wasn’t exactly marrying this man, who was older by a substantial amount of time, for the love – something she adamantly denied. Vicious rumors circulated and some even outright called her a gold digger.
Fighting or Foreplay
No one wants to be around when a couple is going at each other, but apparently, it happened frequently between these two. But they weren’t fighting just to fight – well, not every time, anyway. No, as it turns out, shouting at each other in public was actually how the couple initiated their, um, couple’s time.
She once revealed that it was their form of foreplay. Look, we think that every couple has the right to handle their attraction for one another in their own way. But sometimes, it can make everyone feel uncomfortable. So that didn't exactly make it any better for anyone else who may have been around at the time!
A little after a year of marriage, in August of 1957, Elizabeth Taylor and Mike Todd welcomed their daughter, Liza, to the world. Everything seemed to be going right for the Hollywood couple and at this point, you would be right to assume that it would be "happily ever after" for Taylor and Todd.
Sadly, in March of the next year, tragedy struck when a plane carrying Todd crashed in New Mexico, killing him and the three other people on board. The 26-year-old and her young daughter were left without their husband and father. Taylor was now a widow and a single mother.
Saving His Life
While Taylor was left without her husband, another Hollywood wife was thanking her lucky stars that her partner was not killed in the same plane crash. Kirk Douglas would have been on board if he had had his way that morning after the two men played a game of tennis at Todd’s house.
Incredibly, Douglas’s wife, who was six months pregnant at the time, had a “funny feeling” and told him that she did not want him on the private plane, and to fly commercial instead. The fact he listened to his wife ultimately saved his life. This didn't bring any comfort to Taylor though, who was understandably heartbroken.
Not Following Her Mother's Footsteps
As little Liza was just a few months old when her father died in the plane crash, she never got a chance to meet him. Liza (Liza Todd,) never had any desire to be a part of the world of glamour and entertainment. However, growing up, she didn’t have much of a choice and actually had to do with paparazzi climbing over the walls of their estate on a few occasions.
While keeping away from the spotlight, she did carry on with one of her mother’s traditions — art. It may have been in a different form, but Liza chose to go into sculpting and now lives in a quiet, rural home with plenty of animals.
A Colorful Love Life
It would be the understatement of the century to say that Elizabeth Taylor’s romantic life was interesting. And it is safe to say that it was anything but boring. It may have been a roller coaster that took her for one hell of a wild ride, but it made for several interesting experiences (some much better than others.)
Unfortunately, she hurt a lot of people when she was on that ride — herself included. She had a number of extramarital relationships during the course of her marriages, all of which ended up being scrutinized under the spotlight - and understandably so.
That's a Wrap
In 1958, Elizabeth Taylor starred with Paul Newman in the film "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," which was based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play. It was very well received, both by critics and audiences alike, and ultimately it went on to be the third highest-grossing film of the year.
After that, Taylor decided to bring her acting career to a halt. At least, those were her intentions. Unfortunately for her, her studio had other plans for her. After all, she was bringing in a lot of money for them, and they were not going to let her go that easily.
Elizabeth Taylor infamously betrayed her best friend at the time, Debbie Reynolds — the same Debbie Reynolds who became the mother to "Star Wars" actress, Carrie Fisher. Going against any and all girl codes in the world, Elizabeth started getting romantic with Debbie's husband, Eddie Fisher. In the blink of an eye, it stole the headlines.
Reportedly, during a lovemaking scene in the 1960 film, "BUtterfield 8," the two apparently did a lot more than just fake it. In fact, the two would go on to get married after Fisher divorced Reynolds, and after Mike Todd tragically passed away in a plane crash.
Saying Goodbye to a Friend
Like so many others in Hollywood at the time, Elizabeth Taylor was broken after actor James Dean’s death. Although everyone knew the two were friends, there was pretty intense speculation that the two were much closer than they let on. Several sources say they believe Taylor and Dean had an affair of their own.
Not to mention the fact that the "Rebel Without a Cause" star had always confided in Liz and even told her some of his deeply upsetting news about things he had gone through as a child. When he passed away at such a young age and under such tragic circumstances, the actress was a mess.
The Horseback Riding Incident
On the set of her 1944 film, "National Velvet," Elizabeth Taylor was filming a horseback racing scene in which she fell off her horse, resulting in a broken back. Even before MGM bought him for the filming, this horse, King Charles, was known for being aggressive, but Elizabeth loved him anyway.
She spent every day brushing him and bonding with him, and she forgave him immediately after the incident, even when she was in immense pain. Taylor was always a huge lover of animals, and her compassion toward the horse clearly demonstrated this. Her back, unfortunately, wouldn’t be so forgiving.
Although Taylor had even once been quoted as saying she did not want to be known as a symbol of sensuality, it is ultimately what happened, with her even being referred to as, “sensuality on heels.” Because of that, every man on earth was basically powerless around her – even her friend’s husband.
Men around the world lost it when she had an affair with Eddie Fisher, her friend’s husband, who would then become her own husband. But throughout her life, she just could not seem to help herself, and she bounced from relationship to relationship, tying several knots along the way.
Queen of the Nile
In Elizabeth Taylor’s heyday, she was the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. When she portrayed the title role in 1963’s, "Cleopatra," she earned a cool $1 million for her efforts on set, making her the first woman in the world to make that much for a motion picture. It was a historical moment.
As it turns out, she initially joked to a producer who first offered the role that she would do it for “a million dollars” – and it turns out that they took her seriously. Little did she know that she was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
When Elizabeth first met her future sweetheart, Richard Burton, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. Burton’s reputation as a ladies' man preceded him, and the last thing she wanted was to simply be another “notch on his belt.”
When the first words out of his mouth were, “Has anybody told you what a pretty girl you are?” that didn’t make her any more inclined to talk to him. But later on down the road, when they were working together on the set of "Cleopatra," she couldn’t help herself, and she wound up falling for him based on a scene where they locked eyes.
The Man Said Cut
Elizabeth Taylor first met Richard Burton in Rome, on the set of "Cleopatra." Once filming wrapped, the start of something fiery and passionate ensued – something that would make some very happy and crush the hearts of others. Burton was still married to his wife, and Elizabeth was married to Eddie Fisher.
But it did not make any difference for the two, who seemed to fall madly in love regardless of everything that had happened. In fact, their first kiss happened on set, and the two apparently kept going even after the director had told them to “cut.” Now if that's not romance, we don't know what is.
They Angered the Vatican
Although the film "Cleopatra" was the most expensive ever made at the time, the fact the stars Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were intertwined in this affair was what was most exciting about the whole thing. But the Vatican did not think very highly of the situation – or the actors involved in it.
They charged the pair with “erotic vagrancy,” a scandal which was dubbed so, well, scandalous, that it was named “Le Scandale.” Taylor in particular was torn apart by the press, being labeled as a “homewrecker,” though the pair were equal in their share of the blame.
The affair of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton really got to the press and public alike, even powerful public figures, and we are not just talking about representatives of the Vatican. One Georgia congresswoman actually tried to block the actors from being able to return to the country after filming.
Ultimately, they would make it home safely, and they would bring something with them that would only amplify Le Scandale. But there is no denying that they now had targets on their backs. That was for sure. There were a lot of people who were not happy about the situation.
The shooting of "Cleopatra" ran over budget by a long shot. But after the film wrapped, tensions were high, as the affair between the leading lady and man did not sit well with a nation of watchful eyes. The studio even fired the producer of the film. Was it for watching it happen and not stopping it?
Then, the studio came after the actors with a whopping $50 million lawsuit. Yikes. As if they hadn't already spent enough money on the movie. Now they were going after the stars of the movie. Luckily for them, they would not actually win the case.
When Richard Burton finally popped the question to Elizabeth, he did not do so with a ring. As someone like this actress loves to be dripping in jewels, it may seem a bit odd, but he did in fact offer up some major promise jewelry in the form of a beautiful emerald brooch.
The deal came after the two did a mad dash to escape photographers and found themselves in what the actress called “the money room,” which was a private backroom in Bulgari, with Gianni Bulgari himself there to make the sale. We don't think there has ever been a more unique proposal between two actors.
A Near-Death Experience
Many actors have had near-death experiences while on set, and Elizabeth Taylor was no exception. Filming "Cleopatra" was a nightmarish experience at times, so perhaps that million-dollar salary was actually a reasonable fee, considering the fact the actress nearly died not once, but four times while shooting.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, she told the reporter, “I was pronounced dead four times.” Interestingly, those were not the only times Elizabeth found herself dancing at death’s door in her lifetime. She’d found herself in the emergency room quite a few times over the course of her life, both from injuries and illnesses.
There is no denying that Elizabeth Taylor also had her fair share of challenges in her lifetime - most notably in the health department. The actress seemed to be plagued with bad health throughout the majority of her life, from disorders she was born with, to bouts of pneumonia that resulted in her getting an emergency tracheotomy in 1961.
When she appeared at the academy awards to accept her Oscar for "BUtterfield 8," she still had a bandage over the mark from the tracheotomy incision. She still was not 100% healthy when she made her appearance and even fainted in the restroom.
Best Actress of Her Time
Elizabeth Taylor was widely regarded as the best actress of her time. That status was marked with a number of awards and nominations, including several years in a row of being up for Best Actress in a leading role, thanks to her performances in "Raintree County", "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Suddenly, Last Summer," just to name a few.
Sadly, haters are gonna hate — some speculated that many of the awards that she received were not necessarily granted to her for her talent. Ultimately, this is just hearsay, and it seems that Taylor's long body of work has stood the test of time, long after her passing.
Husband Number Six
Taylor’s sixth husband’s name was John Warner. Before passing away in 2021 at 94 years old, he worked as an attorney. His illustrious law career includes serving in the U.S. Senate five times, all of which came after his brief marriage to Taylor. The couple tied the knot in December of 1976 and called it quits just a few years later in 1982.
Of course, everyone knew that meant it would not be long before she was married yet again. But who would the lucky guy be this time? Her choice would raise a ton of eyebrows…and questions, to say the very least.
A Younger Man
Truth be told, Elizabeth Taylor's palette was quite diverse when it came to her love life. The movie star had had a history of marrying men who were a bit older, but when she and construction worker Larry Fortensky walked down the aisle in 1991, she proved to the world that she definitely had no type when it came to men.
The young man was two decades her junior, which seemed very out of character for Taylor. Unfortunately, the love wasn’t meant to last – well, not any longer than the five years it took for Fortensky’s prenup to lock him into a million dollars, anyway.
There are many actors out there who were born with abnormalities, in some shape or form. Elizabeth Taylor was a classic example of this. The actress was born with a genetic mutation known as distichiasis, which causes an extra set of eyelashes to emerge. While some may think that it may not be such a bad thing, the lashes often don’t come in as they’re supposed to.
Plus, they can grow at odd angles, which leads to discomfort around the eyes. The mutation is also known as FOXC2, which is interesting considering most men would likely describe Taylor as a “fox.”
There is no question about the fact that Elizabeth Taylor’s love life was always in full swing. It may have been a rollercoaster at times, but she never let things get boring for herself, the paparazzi, or the general public, that’s for sure. She paired up with everyone from other A-listers to politicians and construction workers.
Of course, she always said that her one true love was "Cleopatra" co-star, Richard Burton. And when you marry the same guy twice, unlike all of the one-off marriages in your life, that is definitely saying something. Even long after the two had split, she admitted to still being madly in love with him.
Till Death Do Us Part
Even after the passionate pair had both exited this world, Elizabeth wasn’t about to let go of her true love. She even insisted on being buried with the last love letter that Richard Burton ever wrote to her. When Taylor passed away at age 79, due to heart failure, she kept the letter detailing what we now know was him saying that he, “wanted to come home.”
And where exactly was home to the actor? Wherever Elizabeth was. Unfortunately, Sally Hay, Burton's widow, wasn’t going to let that happen. She seemingly did everything in her power to prevent the two from being buried with one another.
Every actor seems to have their odd or annoying habits, and Elizabeth Taylor was no exception. The diva was known for several things – one of which was being fashionably late, which she proved that she could do even after death. In her will, she made it clear that she didn’t want to arrive on time for her funeral.
How was the wish fulfilled? Let us break it down for you. Her coffin was brought in fifteen minutes after services were scheduled to begin. Mission accomplished! The actress was then buried in a quiet spot on a hill outside of Los Angeles.
The Secret to Smooth Skin
While Elizabeth Taylor was certainly beautiful in her own right, she had plenty of secrets to her regime that kept everything looking fabulous. In fact, she and fellow A-lister Marilyn Monroe both shared a genetic condition that actually meant she had to go above and beyond in their beauty regime.
She had to exfoliate and shave her face on a regular basis to control a thin layer of peach fuzz that arose on her porcelain skin. To be honest, this is one of those details that most people would never have noticed unless they read about it. We're sorry to shatter the illusion that Taylor was au natural in every single way.
One Bad Day
There were plenty of bad days that Elizabeth Taylor experienced during her illustrious career. But the following one has to go up with there with the very worst. The actress started filming her hit, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," in the middle of March 1958. But the same day cameras started rolling, tragedy struck.
She got the news that her husband, Mike Todd, had tragically passed away in a plane crash. Amazingly, she continued on with her work. But just a few days later, she contracted a virus that made it impossible for her to carry on as scheduled.
After the death of her husband Mike Todd, Taylor rethought her religious beliefs and decided to convert to Judaism – a decision that did not sit well with Egyptian officials, who in turn, banned her from their country, along with all of her films. This is due to the work she had done on the film "Cleopatra."
The head of the Cairo regional bureau of the Israel Boycott Office said that she, “will not be allowed to come to Egypt,” because she “supports Israeli causes.” The actress was not deterred, and the ban was ultimately lifted when the Egyptian authorities realized how much positive publicity the film brought to their country.
In 1985, Elizabeth worked as a chairperson at the AIDS Project Los Angeles. Not long after, the cause would hit even closer to home when the disease was responsible for taking the life of her close friend Rock Hudson. In 1991, she launched the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which is still in play today.
Incredibly, she took her activism one step further and actually ran an underground “safe house” for a network of HIV medications in the 1990s. It has been called the “Los Angeles equivalent of the Dallas Buyers Club.” The foundation is in full swing today and can be found at elizabethtayloraidsfoundation.org.
Dinner With Royals
Taylor was known for being particularly grand, and when she was with Burton, the two sometimes had trouble deciding what to do for the evening. She wanted to go have dinner with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, much to his dismay, as he found that kind of thing to be boring.
During one dinner with another royal, Princess Margaret, the royal asked to try on her giant ring, and she even went as far as to call it “vulgar.” The actress let her slide it on, saying that she no longer thought it was vulgar once it was on her own finger.
Although Taylor and Burton were madly in love, they did not see eye to eye about everything during their times together and still had their fair share of trouble. For one, Taylor went through a stage in her life where she was taking medication, and he, at the same time, had an issue with alcohol.
The fights apparently got so out of hand that one couple reportedly booked the suite below theirs at a hotel they were staying in just so they could eavesdrop on the arguments. And surely enough, they heard a lot of disruption and arguments from the Hollywood couple.
On the Road
After the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, an unlikely trio hopped into a car and booked it the hell out of New York City. Taylor, along with Marlon Brando and Michael Jackson, decided to go on a road trip following the events.
This is perhaps one of the strangest celebrity road trips of all time. As they made their way through the country, Brando apparently wanted to stop at all of the KFCs to indulge in chicken for the road. It’s sort of hard to imagine, and it also makes you wonder how that hasn’t been turned into a movie yet.
The infamously mysterious, chicken-fueled celebrity road trip may not have been turned into a silver-screen special. However, it's not as if it never reached the light of day or even onto the small screen. Eventually, the story was turned into one episode of the dramedy series, "Urban Myths." The show was created by a British production company, Sky Arts.
And the reenactment certainly upset a lot of viewers along the way. In the episode, Joseph Fiennes was controversially cast as the King of Pop himself – which angered a lot of people, including Jackson’s daughter, Paris, who was very vocal in her objecting to the portrayal.
The Money Room
There have been some incredible sets of jewelry that have been sold at actions after the owner has passed away. But Elizabeth Taylor's set takes the cake, especially from a financial point of view. The actress had quite the collection of jewelry that she had put together since starting out as a young actress in Hollywood.
After her death, the collection would be sold for a whopping $115.9 million, which set a world record for the most expensive private jewelry collection in history. She used to deal with the jewelers themselves and had nicknames for the back rooms that she would do business in, including Bulgari’s, “the money room.”
It was rare for Elizabeth to be spotted without at least one animal companion by her side, which typically came along in the form of a small dog – the Maltese were her favorite breed. She was once quoted as saying, “I sometimes think I prefer animals to people.”
When she was a teenager, she was given a lion cub to take home with his bottle and formula. Of course, her father ultimately made her return the cub to his original owner, with him rationally explaining that they had no business raising a wild animal. Over the years, Taylor had many, many pets.
The star loved a large number of animals throughout her life, but perhaps one that she held most dearly was her white female Maltese Terrier, Sugar. Elizabeth Taylor had the dog from when she was just three months old until she passed away in 2005.
Taylor once said, “I’ve never loved a dog like this in my life,” and, “Sometimes I think there’s a person in there.” Sugar was her constant companion, always by her side no matter where she went. Christopher Radko even designed a Sugar Christmas ornament one year and donated all of the proceeds to AIDS organizations.
When it comes to being on magazine covers, there aren't many actors or actresses as prolific as the one and only Elizabeth Taylor. The late performer has appeared on the cover of "Life" magazine a record-breaking 14 times. The very first time was in 1947 when she was only 15.
She has appeared on the cover of countless other publications. When she was photographed wearing a white bathing suit for "Suddenly, Last Summer", it actually almost got banned for being too “racy.” Today's pictures show a lot more, but in 1958, when the picture was taken, times were very different.
Back in the Day
It's already been established in this story that Elizabeth Taylor dealt with a number of health issues during the course of her life. She spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital and dealing with doctors for large parts of her life.
She went to the hospital more than 100 times over the last 25 years of her life, dealing with severe scoliosis. Her curved spine caused a number of hip and back complications. But, sometimes these things are just a part of life, and Taylor knew how to take the good with the bad at virtually all times.
Queen of Perfume
Believe it or not, but Elizabeth Taylor made more money selling her fragrances than she made from making movies. She had been making money selling things since she opened her very first lemonade stand as a kid. Of course, the products she sold later in life were more about her and less about the items themselves.
She once said, “I was always able to sell Elizabeth Taylor,” and that she was. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that she jokingly quoted herself at a million for Cleopatra and the studio just said, “Okay.” Now that's one way to make an easy million.
Acting was in Taylor's blood from the very start. As early as three years old, the young Taylor started taking dancing classes and eventually performed for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. After Taylor's family relocated to California, a family friend suggested that young Taylor should do a screen audition.
In 1942 at the age of 10, she signed a contract with Universal Studios, launching into the film industry with "There's One Born Every Minute." The following year she played a more prominent role in the famous "Lassie Come Home." However, her claim to fame really started in 1944 in "National Velvet." This film turned out to be a massive hit and raked in $4 million, making the 12-year-old a megastar.
To this day, Taylor prevails as one of Hollywood's everlasting style icons. Of course, her acting mastery earned her some of the industry's greatest praises, and her tendency to hoard diamonds and fine gowns is equally part of that legacy. She always conserved her personal finesse as her style shifted and drifted through romantic, professional, and political scenarios.
Starting out, she preferred a modest undertaking to fashion, going for polished and sophisticated looks. As she got older, her tendency to welcome her feminity through her style became a major part of her identity. Elizabeth often dressed in Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Valentino, which she carefully selected to look sophisticated yet feminine.
Liz and Jacko
The friendship between Michael Jackson and Liz Taylor baffled a lot of the public in the 80s and still today. No one understood what a young adolescent disco/pop idol and a film legend from the 60s were doing befriending each other. Nonetheless, the pair found commonality bracing the burden of fame, which led to a long-lasting companionship.
During Taylor's 65th birthday celebration, which was televised, Jackson serenaded his friend, and Taylor supported Jackson in court when he was in the middle of his highly publicized lawsuit. The two were frequently seen and photographed together, and Taylor was one of the few close loved ones invited to Jackson's burial ceremony.
Taylor loved her luxurious Hollywood lifestyle, but she also carried her children very close to her heart. Throughout the early days of her career, Taylor had four children: Liza, Maria, Michael, and Christopher. Beyond their mother's megastar social standing, all four of her children flourished fully in their own way.
All four of her children are now well over 60, meaning she also has ten grandchildren and several great-grandchildren that are all keeping Taylor's iconic legacy alive. Taylor's two sons, Michael and Christopher, came from her second marriage with Michael Wilding. Both sons have dipped their toes in Hollywood by either acting or working behind the scenes. Her fourth child Maria was an adopted orphan from Germany.
Mom and Dad
Taylor was born in 1932 to father Francis Taylor and mother Sara Sothern. Her father from Illinois was an art dealer and began his career in New York with the help of a wealthy uncle. He met Taylor's mother, Sara, who is from Arkansas, and the pair tied the knot in 1926 in a New York ceremony.
Taylor's mother was also an actress, but she preferred to act on stage. However, after the pair got married, Sara retired from acting and became a housewife, devoting herself to her family and her daughter's movie career. Taylor shared her parents with her beloved brother, Howard Taylor.
The highbrow argument of nature vs. nurture can be seen between Elizabeth Taylor and her sibling Howard Taylor — the two cherished each other and agreed on many of the same principles and outlooks on life. However, they trekked down completely different roads in their lives, leading them to different places.
The two were born three years apart, with Howard being the oldest. They grew up closely and were exposed to the elevated social circles of their parents from a young age. Howard played a minor role alongside Taylor, but ultimately he stayed out of the Hollywood spotlight and became a fully-fledged activist and social symbol. He also created Howard Camp, a safe haven for those seeking refuge.
In the 1980s, Taylor's doctor almost declared her dead when he saw the dosages of medication she was taking and stated, "The dosages were incompatible with life." By the year 1983, her overdependence on medication went to a point where her daughter-in-law at the time, Aileen Getty, anonymously dialed a regulatory agency to voice that Taylor's doctors were overprescribing her medication.
This led to the finding of just how much the star was dosing up. Her three doctors wrote a combined 1000 prescriptions for 28 different types of medication between 1983 and 1988, which included sleeping pills, tranquilizers, and painkillers. She battled with these vices until her final breath in 2011.
Secret Safe House
In the 1980s, while Taylor was battling with her own vices, she also ran a secret safe house for people with AIDS. It was reportedly an underground campaign supporting patients of this kind and administering experimental medications to them. This safe house was run from Taylor's very own Bel Air villa and was allegedly funded by the profit that she amassed from her hefty jewelry collection.
For someone receiving a diagnosis of this kind at the time, information and medical attention were minimal, and medicines were mostly coming from abroad in Asia and Europe. This operation most definitely took a lot of courage and connections to run successfully and just shows the true humanitarian nature that was inside this lustrous Hollywood icon.
Drama Inducing Icon
Taylor was regarded as one of the first modern celebrities. Her private life was indistinguishably connected to her public image, and though it seemed like she played Elizabeth Taylor more than the characters she played on film, she didn't consciously cultivate celeb status, at least not with the calculation of so-called wannabe celebrities today.
Taylor's red-hot celebrity personality rendered a desperate need for the public to get information about her private life and generated an industry of celebrity scolding that lives on to this day. The tabloid newsworthy gossip-inducing part of her life started when she "stole" Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds and continued to follow her through all of her life, where she drew a lot of public disapproval.
Most people were too distracted by Taylor's dazzling beauty and her off-screen life drama to notice, but she was involved in promoting America's feminist movement. In one of her first films, "National Velvet," she portrayed a character who rose up against gender discrimination. Her receding breakthrough, "A Place in the Sun," is perceived as a pro-choice flick.
In "BUtterfield 8," her character was an escort who chose the men and called the shots – a core objective of the third-wave feminism that arose in the '90s. She was barely an archetypal feminist, but she moved from husband to husband without caring about public scrutiny. It was her world, and everyone else was just living in it.
The Godmother of Paparazzi Culture
Bella Hadid and the Kardashians look pretty normal compared to how Taylor was in the mid-20th century. As the face that launched thousands of tabloids, anyone growing up in the 50s and 60s could not avoid the sensational spectacle of Taylor even if they tried. She penetrated magazine covers, newspapers, radio, and of course, TV.
The photograph taken by paparazzi of Taylor and Burton together on a yacht became a turning topic that founded a new era. It was this publication that, from then on, created a stage that made it impossible for celebs to separate their personal lives from the public eye. Taylor's ever-changing romantic endeavors became a peculiarity in the spotlight and continuously got front-page coverage.
More Than Just a Pretty Face
At the time that the AIDS pandemic was starting to emerge, Taylor stood up to the intolerance and ignorance surrounding the illness when prejudice and fear surrounded this new disease. Due to all of Taylor's humanitarian deeds, she was awarded a couple of titles and awards. First, it was France in 1987, granting her their highest civilian honor, the Legion of Honor.
Other countries also got involved, like England when she got knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000, honoring the star as a Dame Commander of the Order under the British Empire. In America, she was also awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001. Her work toward helping people in need certainly paid off.
Oscars and Acknowledgements
Everyone knows the sheer weight that an Academy Award holds and how big of a career achievement it is. Taylor was so involved in the Hollywood scene that she managed to land herself a whopping two Oscars and was nominated for three. No mean feat here. According to IMDb, the star also has a hefty 79 acting recognitions to her name.
After years of film-making and dozens of cinematic skits, Taylor received an Oscar. She got her first one for her role in "BUtterfield 8" in 1961 and her second one for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1967. By the 1980s, Taylor's acting career started to dwindle as she began to spend more time on her philanthropic endeavors.
The Difference Between Fire and Passion
Taylor was a powerhouse go-getter. From a young age, during her childhood years, she asserted her independence and lived her life on her own terms. Her independent flair was just one aspect of what she thought of as her most significant quality, and that's passion.
Taylor always went knee-deep in whatever venture she undertook. She even said once: "I'm not fascinated by things, I dive into them. One is fascinated by fire. But when I was a toddler and crawling, I was so fascinated by it that I reached out and touched it. That's the difference between fascination and passion for me."
Retiring Was Never an Option
Although Taylor worked for the larger portion of her life, starting her Hollywood career early on while still a kid, she never slowed down. She kept up her acting career long after most of the public thought she'd retire. In her later years, at the height of her declining health, she gave all her energy to advocating for humanitarian causes.
After plenty of films and two Oscars, she set her eyes on theater simply because she felt like a change. Taylor also asserted that it was her passion for acting that kept her pushing in that career, rather than the need to prove herself to the public and stay relevant in Hollywood.
In the 1994 live-action movie "The Flinstones," Taylor portrayed "Pearl Slaghoople," the mother-in-law of Fred Flinstone. With this role, Taylor raised over $330,000 for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF). This feature stood as an intersection point of the star's acting expertise and humanitarian efforts.
This movie was directed by Bruce Cohen, who, once the film concluded, carried on supporting the ETAF. Today, Cohen runs the foundation's HIV Is Not a Crime Program. The philanthropic campaign didn't stop here but rather gained even more momentum. Taylor used her role in "The Flinstones " and every other on-screen venture that ensued thereafter as a means to aid patients in this area by contributing parts of her salary to the foundation.
Magazine Cover Girl
Not surprisingly, like a lot of A-list celebs, Taylor appeared as a cover girl on piles of magazines throughout her Hollywood reign. What sets her apart, though, from the others is that she was "People" magazine's cover girl a whopping 14 times, only setting her behind the royal Princess Diana, who has the highest number of solo covers in this popular magazine.
It didn't end with "People" magazine, though, as she also graced the cover of "Life" magazine 14 times. Throughout Taylor's lifetime, she was the cover girl in over 1000 magazines, making her the only star to achieve this feat.