Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, (27 February 1932 – 23 March 2011) was a British-American
actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She began her career as a child actress in the early
1940s, and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She
continued her career successfully into the 1960s, and remained a well-known public figure for the rest
of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend.
Born in London to wealthy, socially prominent American parents, Taylor moved with her family to Los
Angeles in 1939, and she soon was given a film contract by Universal Pictures. She made her screen
debut in a minor role in There's One Born Every Minute (1942), but Universal terminated her contract
after a year. Taylor was then signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and had her breakthrough role in
National Velvet (1944), becoming one of the studio's most popular teenaged stars. She made the
transition to adult roles in the early 1950s, when she starred in the comedy Father of the Bride (1950)
and received critical acclaim for her performance in the drama A Place in the Sun (1951).
Despite being one of MGM's most bankable stars, Taylor wished to end her career in the early 1950s,
as she resented the studio's control and disliked many of the films to which she was assigned. She
began receiving roles she enjoyed more in the mid-1950s, beginning with the epic drama Giant
(1956), and starred in several critically and commercially successful films in the following years.
These included two film adaptations of plays by Tennessee Williams: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958),
and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959); Taylor won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for the latter.
Although she disliked her role as a call girl in BUtterfield 8 (1960), her last film for MGM, she won the
Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
Taylor was then paid a record-breaking $1 million to play the title role in the historical epic Cleopatra
(1963), the most expensive film made up to that point. During the filming, Taylor and co-star Richard
Burton began an extramarital affair, which caused a scandal. Despite public disapproval, Burton and
she continued their relationship, and were married in 1964. Dubbed "Liz and Dick" by the media, they
starred in 11 films together, including The V.I.P.s (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), The Taming of the
Shrew (1967), and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Taylor received the best reviews of her
career for Woolf, winning her second Academy Award and several other awards for her performance.
She and Burton divorced in 1974, but reconciled soon after, and re-married in 1975. The second
marriage ended in divorce in 1976.
Taylor's acting career began to decline in the late 1960s, although she continued starring in films until
the mid-1970s, after which she focused on supporting the career of her sixth husband, Senator John
Warner. In the 1980s, she acted in her first substantial stage roles and in several television films and
series, and became the first celebrity to launch a perfume brand. Taylor was also one of the first
celebrities to take part in HIV/AIDS activism. She co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS
Research in 1985, and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991. From the early 1990s until her
death, she dedicated her time to philanthropy. She received several accolades for it, including the
Presidential Citizens Medal.
Throughout her life, Taylor's personal affairs were subject to constant media attention. She was
married eight times to seven men, endured serious illnesses, and led a jet set lifestyle, including
assembling one of the most expensive private collections of jewelry. After many years of ill health,
Taylor died from congestive heart failure at the age of 79 in 2011.
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