Elizabeth Taylor was a humanitarian and one of Hollywood’s most famous stars in the 1950s and 1960s.
She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s, went on to have a successful and award-winning film career in the 1960s, and was a well-known public personality until her death in 2011.
Taylor was well-known outside of the spotlight for her tumultuous personal life, which featured a luxury jet-setting lifestyle, eight marriages, various illnesses, and numerous charity endeavors.
Early Years and the Start of a Career
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in London, England, in 1932 to socially famous parents, art dealer Francis Lenn Taylor and retired theater actress Sara Sothern, both from the United States. Fearing the outbreak of war in Europe, she and her family moved to Los Angeles in 1939, where Taylor attended Hawthorne School.
While in California, the young Taylor was noticed for her violet eyes and thick, dark eyelashes, and was urged to audition for films by the family’s industry connections. Taylor auditioned for MGM and Universal Pictures in early 1941, and both companies offered him contracts.
Taylor made her acting debut in 1942 with a brief role in “There’s One Born Every Minute,” after which her Universal contract was dissolved. Taylor was also given the opportunity to audition for a tiny role in MGM’s “Lassie Come Home” later that year.
In early 1943, she was offered a three-month trial contract, which was then extended to a full seven-year term. The actress made her breakthrough the following year, when she was cast in the horse-racing drama “National Velvet” at the age of twelve.
When the film was released on Christmas Day in 1944, it was a box-office triumph, and by the time Taylor was fifteen, she was being compared to older Hollywood stars like Lana Turner and Ava Gardner.
“Life with Father,” a 1947 picture, “A Date with Judy,” a 1948 high school musical, and the romantic comedy “Julia Misbehaves” were all notable films from Taylor’s adolescence. Taylor’s final adolescent role was in a 1949 dramatization of “Little Women.”
Adult Roles and Crucial Victories
Taylor became more mature as an adult, playing the wife of a suspected Soviet spy in 1949’s “Conspirator” and a bride-to-be preparing for her wedding in 1950’s “Father of the Bride.” Taylor’s biggest critical praise, however, came with the 1951 film “A Place in the Sun,” in which she starred alongside Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters as a spoiled socialite.
The film was a box office success, winning six Academy Awards. Following this, Taylor had a string of hits for MGM, including 1952’s “Love is Better Than Ever” and “Ivanhoe,” as well as 1954’s romantic drama “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” starring Van Johnson.
Taylor’s critical acclaim peaked in the second half of the 1950s and early 1960s. This was the year she co-starred in the 1956 western epic “Giant” with James Dean and Rock Hudson.
Taylor reunited with previous costar Montgomery Clift for MGM’s Civil War epic “Raintree Country” the following year. The actress received her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her role as a psychologically troubled Southern belle.
Three more nominations followed, for “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” in 1958, “Suddenly, Last Summer” in 1959, which costarred Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift, and “Butterfield 8” in 1960, in which she played a high-class sex worker. Taylor won her first Academy Award for the later film, which was a huge economic success.
Following her MGM contract, Taylor starred in 20th Century Fox’s big-budget “Cleopatra,” which went on to become the year’s biggest film.
Taylor became the first actress to be paid $1 million for her role, which she shared with future husband Richard Burton, with whom she was having an illicit affair behind the scenes. Following that, Taylor and Burton starred as a super-couple in “The V.I.P.s,” and they continued to work together as costars throughout the 1960s.
“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” (1966), an adaptation of the Edward Albee play in which they played a bitter, arguing married couple, was the pinnacle of their collaborations. Taylor’s performance was the most lauded of her career, earning her a second Academy Award for Best Actress.
Retirement and the End of a Career
Taylor’s career began to wane in the late 1960s as she gained weight and was unable to keep up with the glitter of New Hollywood performers like Jane Fonda. Throughout the 1970s, she continued to star in films, but her critical and economic achievements were essentially behind her.
In the early 1980s, she took on the lead part of Regina Giddens in a Broadway production of “The Little Foxes” in order to challenge herself. Taylor largely acted in made-for-TV movies like “Malice in Wonderland,” “There Must Be a Pony,” and “Sweet Bird of Youth” throughout the rest of the decade.
Taylor announced her retirement in order to devote her time to philanthropy after sporadic work in the 1990s and early 2000s, during which time she mostly focused on HIV/AIDS advocacy.
Taylor’s adult years were defined by intensive media scrutiny of her sexual life, which included eight marriages and scandalous encounters. Conrad Hilton Jr., a Hilton heir, was her first husband, whom she married when she was eighteen years old.
After Hilton revealed himself to be aggressive and alcoholic, the couple split within eight months. Taylor married actor Michael Wilding in 1952, and the couple had two boys before divorcing in 1957. Taylor married producer Mike Todd and had a daughter the following year.
Todd was died in a plane crash in 1958. Shortly after, the actress began an affair with Eddie Fisher, who was married at the time, resulting in public outrage.
However, in 1959, the two married. Taylor began another relationship with Richard Burton, who would later become her famous cinematic partner, while filming “Cleopatra” in 1962. After Taylor’s divorce from Fisher in 1964, they married; ten years later, Taylor and Burton divorced.
In 1975, they married for the second time, and in 1976, they divorced for the second time. Taylor met and married Republican politician John Warner, with whom she worked on an election campaign, not long after. Taylor divorced Warner in 1982 after becoming bored and lonely in Washington.
After dating actor Anthony Geary, the actress was briefly engaged to lawyer Victor Luna and businessman Dennis Stein. Larry Fortensky, her seventh and final spouse, was a construction worker with whom she had a relationship from 1991 to 1996.
Taylor was active in political and charity work in addition to her colorful love life. She was one of the first celebrities to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, raising more over $270 million for the cause. Taylor has also spoken in Congress in support of the Ryan White Care Act, as well as formed a variety of organizations to collect funds for research and provide support to those affected by the disease.
Taylor was also a strong supporter of Jewish and Zionist interests after converting to Judaism in 1959. She was on the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and helped generate funds for the Jewish National Fund.
Death and Enduring Legacy
Taylor has suffered from a variety of accidents and diseases throughout her life, ranging from broken bones to near-fatal episodes of pneumonia.
She was a heavy smoker who developed addictions to alcohol and pain relievers and was eventually confined to a wheelchair due to back problems. Taylor died at the age of 79 in 2011, six weeks after being sent to the hospital for congestive heart failure.
Taylor has left a lasting legacy and has earned a reputation as an LGBTQ icon as a result of her work. She received the Presidential Citizens Medal in recognition of her philanthropic work in addition to her Oscars.
The AFI Life Achievement Award, the Cecil B. DeMille Award, an honorary award from the Screen Actors Guild, and the rank of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire were among the many awards she earned. Taylor was designated the eighth greatest female film legend of all time by the American Film Institute in 1999.
Liz Taylor’s net worth
Elizabeth Taylor was a British-American actress who, at the time of her death, had a net worth of $600 million dollars.