Look up the phrase Movie Star in the dictionary and you will most likely see a photo of Elizabeth Taylor. She spent her entire life in the public eye. Her celebrity transcended any role that she played.
Born in London to American parents (her mother was a Kansas native), Taylor began training in dance at a very young age. The looming hostilities forced the family to leave Europe, settling in Los Angeles.
Hollywood soon noticed the girl with dark hair and striking violet-colored eyes. In 1943, Taylor was signed to seven-year contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Lassie Come Home (1943), National Velvet (1944) and Little Women (1949) established her as a popular child actress.
She transitioned into adult roles as Spencer Tracy’s daughter in Father of the Bride (1950). Appearing as a spoiled socialite in A Place in the Sun (1951) made her a star. Elizabeth Taylor was nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award three years in a row: Raintree County (1957), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), before finally winning for BUtterfield 8 (1960). She won again for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).
Cleopatra (1963) is the role that Taylor is probably most remembered for. But the shoot was plagued with problems including the end of her marriage and nearly bankrupting the studio. Although she remained popular through the 1960s and 1970s, her last starring role was as an aging actress in the Agatha Christie mystery The Mirror Crack’d (1980).
As much as Elizabeth Taylor is known as a Hollywood star, she is also remembered for her marriages, all eight of them. Hotel heir Nicky Hilton (1950-1951), actor Michael Wilding (1952-1957), producer Michael Todd (1957-1958, his death), singer Eddie Fisher (1959-1964), actor Richard Burton (1964-1974, again 1975-1976), Senator John Warner (1976-1982) and construction worker Larry Fortensky (1991-1996).
In the last decades of her life, Elizabeth Taylor stayed very much in the public eye in a variety of roles. From a memorable turn on the daytime soap General Hospital to her speaking Maggie’s first word on The Simpsons. She had popular lines of jewelry and perfume. Taylor was a staunch supporter of AIDS research, stemming from the death of Rock Hudson, her costar in Giant (1956).
Whether you know Elizabeth Taylor from her films, her husbands or her philanthropy, she will always remain a STAR.