in full Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor
Actress. Born Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor on February 27, 1932 in London,
England. One of film's most celebrated stars, Taylor has fashioned
a career that's covered more than six decades, accepting roles that
have not only showcased her beauty, but her ability to take on emotionally
American parents, both art dealers, were residing in London when she
was born. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, the Taylors returned
to the United States and settled into their new life in Los Angeles.
was in Taylor's blood. Her mother had worked as an actress until she
married. At the age of three the young Taylor started dancing, and
eventually gave a recital for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Not
long after relocating to California a family friend suggested the
Taylors' daugher take a screen test.
soon signed a contract with Universal Studios and made her screen
debut at the age of ten in There's One Born Every Minute (1942). She
followed that up with a bigger role in Lassie Come Home (1943) and
later The White Cliffs of Dover (1944).
breakout role, however, came in 1944 with National Velvet, in a role
Taylor spent four months working to get. The film subsequently turned
out to be a huge hit that pulled in more than $4 million and made
the 12-year-old actress a huge star.
the glare of the Hollywood spotlight, the young actress showed she
was more than adept at handling celebrity's tricky terrain. Even more
impressive was the fact that, unlike so many child stars before and
after her, Taylor proved she could make a seamless transition to more
stunning looks helped. At just 18 she played opposite Spencer Tracy
in Father of the Bride (1950). Taylor showed her acting talents in
1954 with three films: The Last Time I Saw Paris, Rhapsody, and Elephant
Walk, the latter of which saw Taylor take on the role of a plantation
owner's wife who is in love with the farm's manager.
personal life only boosted the success of her films. For a time she
dated millionaire Howard Hughes, then at the age of 17, Taylor made
her first entrance into marriage, when she wed hotel heir, Nicky Hilton.
union didn't last long and in 1952, Taylor was walking down the aisle
again, this time to marry actor Michael Welding. In all Taylor has
married eight times during life, including twice to actor Richard
her love life continued to make international headlines, Taylor showed
her talent as an actress. She delivered a riveting performance in
the drama A Place in the Sun, and turned things up even more in 1956
with the film adaptation of the Edna Ferber novel, Giant that co-starred
James Dean. Two years later she sizzled on the big screen in the film
adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Then, the
following year she starred in another Williams classic, Suddenly Last
Summer. Taylor earned her first Oscar, capturing the coveted Best
Actress award for her role as call girl in Butterfield 8 (1960).
But Taylor's fame was also touched by tragedy and loss. In 1958, she
became a young widow when her husband, pioneering film producer Mike
Todd, was killed in a plane crash.
public's obsession with Taylor's love life hit new heights with her
1964 marriage to Richard Burton. She'd met and fallen in love with
actor during her work on Cleopatra (1963), a film that not only heightened
Taylor's clout and fame, but proved to be a staggering investment,
clocking in at an unprecedented $37 million to make.
Taylor-Burton union was a fiery and passionate one. They appeared
onscreen together in the much panned The V.I.P.'s (1963) and then
again two years later for the much heralded Who's Afraid of Virginia
Wolf?, a film that earned Taylor her second Oscar for her role as
an overweight, angry wife of an alcoholic professor played by Burton.
subsequent years proved to be an up-and-down affair for Taylor. There
were more marriages, more divorces, health obstacles, and a struggling
film career, with movies that gained little traction with critics
or the movie going public.
Taylor continued to act. She found work on television , even making
a guest appearance on General Hospital, and on stage. She also began
focusing more attention on philanthropy. After her close friend Rock
Hudson died in 1985 following his battle with HIV/AIDS, the actress
started work to find a cure for the disease. In 1991 she launched
the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation in order to offer greater
support for those who are sick, as well fund research for more advanced
the years, Taylor has overcome a litany of health problems, from diabetes
to congestive heart failure. She's had both hips replaced and in 1997
had a brain tumor removed. In October 2009, Taylor, who has four children,
underwent successful heart surgery.
retired from the world of acting, Taylor has received numerous awards
for her body of work. In 1993 she received the American Film Institute's
Life Achievement Award. In 2000 she was made Dame Commander of the
Order of the British Empire (DBE).
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