Elizabeth Taylor


Actor
Elizabeth Taylor

About

Also Known As
Dame Elizabeth Taylor, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor
Birth Place
London, England, GB
Born
February 27, 1932
Died
March 23, 2011

Biography

With the arguable exception of Marilyn Monroe, no other star from Hollywood's Golden Age exerted a more enduring hold on the public's imagination than the violet-eyed beauty, Elizabeth Taylor. For nearly 70 years, the press chronicled every element of Taylor's very public private life, which was fraught with more melodrama, romantic intrigue, and scandal than the collected works of Jacqu...

Photos & Videos

Little Women - Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Behind-the-Scenes Still
A Date with Judy - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Ivanhoe (1952) - Behind-the-Scenes photos - Elizabeth Taylor

Family & Companions

Nicholas Conrad Hilton Jr
Husband
Hotelier. Married on May 6, 1950; divorced in January 29, 1951.
Stanley Donen
Companion
Director. Together briefly in 1951.
Michael Wilding
Husband
Actor. Married on February 21, 1952, filed for divorce on October 4, 1956.
Mike Todd
Husband
Producer, promoter, showman. Married on February 2, 1957 until his death in a plane crash in New Mexico on March 23, 1958.

Bibliography

"The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor"
Ellis Amburn, HarperCollins (2000)
"Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor"
C. David Heymann, Birch Lane Press (1995)
"Elizabeth Taylor Takes Off: On Weight Gain, Weight Loss, Self Esteem and Self Image"
Elizabeth Taylor (1988)
"Elizabeth Taylor: Her Life, Her Loves, Her Future"
Ruth Waterbury, Bantam Books (1982)

Notes

She is called 'Elizabeth' by her friends, NEVER 'Liz'.

"The more, the better, has always been my motto."---Elizabeth Taylor quoted in TV Guide, June 4, 1994.

Biography

With the arguable exception of Marilyn Monroe, no other star from Hollywood's Golden Age exerted a more enduring hold on the public's imagination than the violet-eyed beauty, Elizabeth Taylor. For nearly 70 years, the press chronicled every element of Taylor's very public private life, which was fraught with more melodrama, romantic intrigue, and scandal than the collected works of Jacqueline Susann and Harold Robbins combined. The eight marriages, medical crises, and headline-grabbing meltdowns all but eclipsed the fact that Taylor twice won the Best Actress Academy Award, for "Butterfield 8" (1960) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966), respectively. Or that the American Film Institute ranked the five-time Oscar nominee seventh on its list of the "25 Greatest Women Screen Legends" in 1999. And while Taylor's filmography was littered with critical and commercial flops – most infamously the epic box disaster "Cleopatra" (1963) – she also gave indelible performances in such classics as "National Velvet" (1944), "A Place in the Sun" (1951), "Giant" (1956) and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958) – all of which added to her reputation as one of the most talented, larger-than-life actresses to have ever graced the silver screen.

Ironically, the raven-haired, violet-eyed screen siren elicited more pity than awe when she entered the world on Feb. 27, 1932. The second child of Francis and Sara Taylor, American expatriates living in London, the infant Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor suffered from hypertrichosis; which left her tiny body completely covered in soft black hair. Although her parents were understandably alarmed, their worries vanished after a few weeks when the unsightly hair fell away, revealing their newborn daughter's exquisite beauty. While Francis Taylor managed his uncle's art gallery, Sara lavished attention on Elizabeth, whom she simultaneously indulged and controlled. Both Elizabeth and her adored older brother Howard, three years her senior, were raised in privilege. Every whim was indulged, but at the same time, Sara carefully groomed Elizabeth to carry herself with poise, particularly after the four-year-old captivated an audience with her impromptu solo performance during a dance recital. A former actress with a handful of 1920s-era stage roles to her credit, Sara immediately recognized her daughter's nascent star quality. The same could not be said, however, of Hollywood film executives.

In 1941, two years after the Taylors left London to settle in Los Angeles, Sara Taylor finagled a six-month contract for nine-year-old Elizabeth at Universal Pictures; the ever enterprising stage mother had befriended the wife of Universal Pictures chairman J. Cheever Chowdin. Then a shy and sheltered little girl, Elizabeth made her inauspicious screen debut in a Universal short film, "There's One Born Every Minute" (1942) co-starring Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer of "Our Gang" fame. Taylor's performance as a bratty little girl in this quickie programmer failed to impress Universal's casting director Dan Kelly, who complained that Taylor's eyes were "too old" and that she did not "have the face of a kid." Subsequently dismissed by Universal, Taylor soon rebounded with an MGM contract, thanks to her father's friendship with producer Samuel Marx. In the midst of shooting "Lassie Come Home" (1943), starring Roddy McDowall and Donald Crisp, Marx was desperately looking for a young girl to play the small but pivotal role of Priscilla, the granddaughter of a rich Yorkshire landowner. Despite her inexperience – she had no formal training, just her mother's incessant coaching – Taylor nevertheless beat out four other actresses for the part. The resulting film did little to boost her profile on the MGM lot; in fact, the studio promptly loaned her out to 20th Century Fox for a brief role in "Jane Eyre" (1944).

Although her mother micro-managed Taylor's life and career, the 12-year-old MGM contract player was no longer the malleable naïf, thrust onto a soundstage, as she had been during her brief Universal tenure. Determined to play the coveted role of Velvet Brown, the horseback riding heroine of "National Velvet," Taylor launched a major charm offensive against Lucille Ryman Carroll, the head of MGM's talent department. She won the demanding role, which required her to play an English country girl masquerading as a boy to ride her beloved horse in the Grand National Steeplechase. Under Clarence Brown's sensitive direction, Taylor gave a spirited and utterly assured performance in this heartwarming adaptation of Enid Bagnold's novel, co-starring Mickey Rooney, Anne Revere, and another fresh-faced newcomer, Angela Lansbury. Thanks to "National Velvet," Taylor finally became a bona fide movie star. Unlike many of her classmates at the studio's little red schoolhouse, she never went through a career-ending "awkward stage." The ethereally lovely adolescent blossomed into a drop-dead gorgeous ingénue, equally believable playing teenagers and older women alike. In 1949, the same year she played Amy March in MGM's glossy remake of "Little Women," the studio cast the 17-year-old as Robert Taylor's wife in the espionage thriller, "Conspirator." She acquitted herself nicely in both roles, but the proverbial jury was still out as to whether Taylor was an actress of depth, rather than simply a glamorous leading lady.

If not for director George Stevens, Taylor might have continued providing little more than eye candy in MGM films, like the crowd-pleasing "Father of the Bride" (1950), starring Spencer Tracy. Stevens, however, saw in Taylor the vulnerability, passionate abandon, and inner strength to play Angela Vickers, the ravishing socialite heroine of "A Place in the Sun" (1951), his adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's classic novel, An American Tragedy. Not since "National Velvet" had she tackled such a demanding role – or given such a multi-dimensional performance – as she did here, portraying patrician girlfriend of a poor but rabidly ambitious factory worker, so desperate to get ahead that he commits murder. Challenged by Stevens and co-stars Montgomery Clift and Shelley Winters, Taylor erased any lingering doubts that she had the dramatic chops to tackle difficult roles. A critical and commercial smash, nominated for nine Academy Awards including Best Picture, "A Place in the Sun" should have brought Taylor choice dramatic assignments from MGM. By and large, however, the films she made over the next five years were mediocre at best. During this time, Taylor was generating more ink for her marriages – first, to hotel magnate Nicky Hilton (who she later claimed physically abused her), followed closely by British actor Michael Wilding (who would father two of her three children) – than her performances in such middling star vehicles as "The Girl Who Had Everything" (1953) and "The Last Time I Saw in Paris" (1954).

Once again, George Stevens effectively came to Taylor's professional rescue with another juicy role: the female lead in his sweeping, big-budget adaptation of Edna Ferber's Texas family saga, "Giant" (1956), co-starring Rock Hudson and James Dean. To play Leslie Benedict, a headstrong yet compassionate Virginia belle married to wealthy Texas cattle rancher Jordan "Bick" Benedict (Hudson), Taylor had to age 30-odd years convincingly. That she was more believable as a radiant newlywed than a graying, dowdy grandmother did not diminish what was an excellent performance that held up beautifully. Yet while her male co-stars both received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor – Dean, posthumously – Taylor's finely modulated performance in "Giant" was overlooked by the Motion Picture Academy. Despite the snub for her work in "Giant," Taylor received something more – a chance to form on location a lifelong close friendship with Hudson, who would become one of several of her closeted gay best friends, including Montgomery Clift and fellow child star, Roddy McDowall.

A year later, she would finally receive the first of her five Academy Award nominations for a film that The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther savaged as a "formless amoeba of a thing: " "Raintree County" (1957). Years in the making, MGM's expensive, Cinemascope adaptation of Ross Lockridge, Jr.'s Civil War-era novel cast Taylor as Susanna Drake, a mentally unstable New Orleans beauty married to an idealistic Midwesterner (Montgomery Clift) fighting for the Union. Laboriously directed by Edward Dmytryk, Taylor's histrionic performance was the only spark in this turgid, overblown film that was chiefly remembered for Clift's unfortunate appearance. A near-fatal car accident during the film's production – which occurred after leaving Taylor's home in the Hollywood Hills – had left his formerly handsome face disfigured, so there was no consistency as to how he photographed throughout "Raintree County." Since the accident occurred not far from the Wilding home, not only did she race to Clift's side and keep him from choking to death by removing two of his teeth which had become lodged in his throat, she would nurse him back to health and provide as much nurturing as the tortured actor would allow. Due in no small part to personal demons and his inability to accept his disfigurement, Clift would become yet another imploder, self-destructive through drink and pills, who Taylor would attempt to help save.

Whereas "Raintree County" was best forgotten, Taylor's follow-up featured one of her very best performances. Unfortunately, as was becoming the norm in her life, career highlights came in tandem with personal tragedies. Having divorced Wilding in 1957 and that same year married husband No. 3 – film producer Mike Todd – Taylor was, for the first time in her married life, blissfully happy with a man completely in love with her. She had recently given birth to their daughter, Elizabeth "Liza" Todd, and was feeling a bit under the weather when Todd took a trip she had intended to accompany him on. Unfortunately the showman's private plane, "The Lucky Liz" crashed near Grants, NM on March 22, 1958. Taylor was so grief-stricken, she had to be sedated upon hearing the news. Still mourning the loss of her larger-than-life showman husband, she nonetheless plunged into the role of Maggie in Richard Brooks' powerful adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Broadway smash, "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" (1958). The role fit Taylor's screen persona as tightly as the slip she wore in many scenes: Maggie is tempestuous yet tender; a vulnerable woman who refuses to be an emotional doormat. The scenes between Taylor and co-star Paul Newman crackled with sexual electricity. The film would bring Taylor her second Academy Award nomination. But at the same time she experienced this accolade, she found herself again making news for other, more salacious reasons.

While grieving the loss of Todd throughout 1958, Taylor had grown extremely close to his best friend, crooning sensation, Eddie Fisher. Unfortunately, any wife of a man within 10 feet of Taylor for more than an hour did not stand a chance. The wife in question just happened to be musical screen star, Debbie Reynolds. Together with Fisher, the couple had been coined "America's Sweethearts" for several years – even double-dating with Todd and Taylor on occasion. Unfortunately, Taylor and Fisher fell in love – or something akin to that; more than likely a shared grief instead – breaking up the "perfect marriage" of Fisher and Reynolds. It did not bode well for either Fisher or Taylor that Reynolds was often photographed solo with her two children, Carrie and Todd, securing the sympathy vote as the wronged woman. For the first time in her life, Taylor experienced a radical shift in public opinion: from sympathy at the loss of Todd, to outright rancor and disgust for stealing another woman's husband. Indeed, the Fisher/Taylor/Reynolds dust-up ended up being the biggest Hollywood scandal of the 1950s. Taylor's career would eventually recover, but Fisher's fans would prove less forgiving – helping the crooner fuel a lifelong addiction to pills and booze.

Despite the tabloid buzz of real-life "jezebel," Taylor would return to the Southern Gothic milieu of Tennessee Williams for her next film, "Suddenly, Last Summer" (1959), co-starring Katharine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift. A lurid psychodrama based on Williams' one-act play Garden District, "Suddenly, Last Summer" was the third and final film starring Taylor and Clift, as he was then spiraling downward into alcoholism and drug addiction. Given the well-documented tensions on the set, where Taylor and Hepburn frequently quarreled with director Joseph L. Mankiewicz and producer Sam Spiegel, it was a wonder that "Suddenly, Last Summer" was ever completed, much less turned out to be a compelling film. As for Taylor, her intense performance as Catherine Holly, an emotionally traumatized young woman scheduled to be lobotomized, earned her a third Academy Award nomination.

Now married to Fisher, Taylor's part in the love triangle three years prior would be forgiven after she nearly died from pneumonia in 1961. Her fight to survive not only made for great copy, it also earned Taylor the Motion Picture Academy's "sympathy vote" for her role as a Manhattan call girl in "Butterfield 8" (1960). Taylor herself had no illusions about why she won the 1960 Best Actress Oscar for her solid but unremarkable performance in a film she loathed. Everyone else seemed to know the down-low too. Fellow nominee Shirley MacLaine (for "The Apartment") reportedly exclaimed, "I lost to a tracheotomy!" Oscar in hand, Taylor returned to work with a lucrative vengeance: for playing the title role in Fox's mega-budgeted "Cleopatra" (1963), she became the first actor to receive a $1 million fee. Initially greenlit as a $2 million epic, shot in London by veteran Rouben Mamoulian, "Cleopatra" was dogged by costly delays from the start. Mamoulian exited the film, as did Taylor's original co-stars Peter Finch and Stephen Boyd; they were replaced by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Rex Harrison and Richard Burton, respectively. Playing Marc Antony to Taylor's Queen of the Nile, the Welsh coal miner's son with the sonorous voice and handsomely ravaged face embarked on a steamy affair with Taylor – often blatantly in front of photographers on vacation. Looking the chump and perhaps experiencing a bit of karma, Fisher could only sit back while his wife continued to cozy up to Burton. Meanwhile, the budget for "Cleopatra" kept soaring as the production dragged on in Rome. When Mankiewicz finally screened his reported six-hour cut of the film for Fox executives, the budget for "Cleopatra" had topped $44 million (approximately $300 million, adjusted for inflation). As for Taylor, she ultimately pocketed a cool $7 million paycheck for "Cleopatra," as well as husband No. 5, once she and Burton divorced their respective spouses.

The tepidly received "Cleopatra" was the first of nine feature films starring the couple soon known around the world as simply, "Liz and Dick." Most of their films were negligible, if not downright terrible, like the treacly romantic drama "The Sandpiper" (1965) or "Boom!" (1968), a botched adaptation of Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. It seemed that Taylor and Burton were too busy living a life of glittery, drunken excess to focus on their film careers. They would marry not once, but twice – first in 1964; then in 1975. All told, only two of their films withstood critical scrutiny: Franco Zefferelli's opulent adaptation of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967) and "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966). It was veteran screenwriter Ernest Lehman's brainstorm to cast Taylor and Burton as Martha and George in the latter, the embattled couple playing alcohol-fueled head games with a young professor and his mousy wife, in Mike Nichols' film version of Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning drama. Rumor had it that would not be much of a stretch for Burton and Taylor, a volatile couple whose boozy, top-volume arguments were already the stuff of tabloid legend. That said, it was difficult to envision the beautiful 34-year-old Taylor as the foul-mouthed, middle-aged Martha, a part character actress Uta Hagen had played to unanimous acclaim on Broadway. Studio boss Jack Warner had reportedly wanted to cast either Bette Davis or Patricia Neal in the role, rather than Taylor. Whatever reservations critics had about Taylor's casting evaporated, once she appeared onscreen, 25 pounds heavier and wearing a salt-and-pepper wig. Taylor deservedly won her second Best Actress Academy Award for Nichols' film, which received 13 nominations, including Best Picture, Director, and Actor for Burton, who lost to Paul Scofield for "A Man for All Seasons" (1966).

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" marked the artistic peak of Taylor's film career. She continued making films, most notably "The Taming of the Shrew" and John Huston's haunting "Reflections of a Golden Eye" (1967), opposite Marlon Brando. Otherwise, her big screen vehicles over the last 40 years proved uniformly disappointing: "The Only Game in Town" (1970), "The Blue Bird" (1976), and "The Mirror Crack'd" (1980), to name just three. In 1994, she made her final feature film, Universal's live-action version of "The Flintstones." Like many actresses of a certain age, Taylor found better roles on the small screen. She startled soap fans by making an appearance as the evil Helena Cassadine at Luke and Laura's much publicized 1981 wedding on the daytime drama, "General Hospital" (ABC, 1963- ). She and Carol Burnett redeemed the soapy, HBO made-for-television film, "Between Friends" (1983). She also returned to the works of Tennessee Williams for Nicholas Roeg's NBC remake of "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1989), bravely playing an over-the-hill actress involved with a much younger gigolo (Mark Harmon). In 2001, she and Debbie Reynolds put the Eddie Fisher scandal behind them to join Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins in the made-for-television comedy, "These Old Broads" (ABC, 2001), written by Reynolds' daughter, actress-writer Carrie Fisher.

Still, aside from her acclaimed, Tony Award-nominated performance in Austin Pendleton's 1981 Broadway revival of Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes," Taylor never again attempted anything as challenging as Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" She and Burton would work together one last time – in a poorly received Broadway revival of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" in 1983, a year before his death – but acting had long since taken a back seat to Taylor's AIDS activism, which occurred in the wake of best friend Rock Hudson's 1985 death from the disease – to say nothing of a continued succession of post-Burton husbands including Senator John Warner in 1976, and later, a construction worker she met in rehab, husband No. 7, Larry Fortensky, in 1991. All would end in divorce. Although frequently plagued by serious illness and a very public battle with her weight in the 1970s, Taylor never retreated from the public eye, despite its occasional cruel judgments. It was home to her; a place she had lived comfortably roughly since birth. As she herself once explained, "I've been through it all, baby. I'm mother courage."

In her later years, Taylor was best known for continuing to champion AIDS research, which earned her a special Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1993. She remained a tabloid fixture as singing superstar Michael Jackson’s best friend, always at his side; as she had done for numerous friends in her life, she would loyally stand by the embattled singer during child molestation accusations against him in both 1993 and 2005. When he suddenly passed away in June 2009 of a drug overdose, a devastated and vulnerable Taylor made one of her final public statements about him and their friendship, giving the public the impression she might not rebound from her latest tragedy. She would survive another two years, suffering privately from heart problems which left her hospitalized for six weeks in 2011. Because she had cheated death numerous times over the decades, recovering from brain tumors, pneumonia and even a 30-year prescription drug addiction, many came to view her as indestructible. Sadly, on March 23, 20011, the screen goddess passed away from congestive heart failure, surrounded by her four children.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

A Letter to True (2005)
Herself
These Old Broads (2001)
Beryl Mason
Get Bruce (1999)
Herself
The Flintstones (1994)
Pearl Slaghoople
Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth (1989)
Alexandra Del Lago
Il Giovane Toscanini (1988)
Poker Alice (1987)
The Spencer Tracy Legacy (1986)
There Must Be a Pony (1986)
Malice in Wonderland (1985)
Between Friends (1983)
Genocide (1981)
Narration
The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
Winter Kills (1979)
Lola Camonte
Return Engagement (1978)
Dr Emily Loomis
A Little Night Music (1977)
It's Showtime (1976)
Herself
Victory at Entebbe (1976)
The Blue Bird (1976)
Mother; Witch
That's Entertainment! (1974)
Narrator
Identikit (1974)
Night Watch (1973)
Ellen Wheeler
Ash Wednesday (1973)
Hammersmith Is Out (1972)
Jimmie Jean Jackson
X Y & Zee (1972)
Zee [Blakeley]
Under Milk Wood (1971)
Rosie Probert
The Only Game in Town (1970)
Fran Walker
Doctor Faustus (1968)
Helen of Troy
Secret Ceremony (1968)
Leonora
Boom! (1968)
Flora Goforth
The Comedians (1967)
Martha Pineda
The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
Katharina
Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967)
Leonora Penderton
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Martha
The Sandpiper (1965)
Laura Reynolds
Cleopatra (1963)
Cleopatra
The V.I.P.s (1963)
Frances Andros
BUtterfield 8 (1960)
Gloria Wandrous
Scent of Mystery (1960)
Sally Kennedy
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
Catherine Holly
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Maggie Pollitt
Raintree County (1957)
Susanna Drake Shawnessy
Giant (1956)
Leslie Lynnton Benedict
Beau Brummell (1954)
Lady Patricia [Belham]
The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)
Helen Ellswirth
Rhapsody (1954)
Louise Durant
Elephant Walk (1954)
Ruth Wiley
The Girl Who Had Everything (1953)
Jean Latimer
Ivanhoe (1952)
Rebecca
Love Is Better Than Ever (1952)
Anastasia [Staci] Macaboy
Callaway Went Thataway (1951)
A Place in the Sun (1951)
Angela Vickers
Father's Little Dividend (1951)
Kay Dunstan
The Big Hangover (1950)
Mary Belney
Father of the Bride (1950)
Kay Banks
Conspirator (1949)
Melinda Greyton [Curragh]
Little Women (1949)
Amy [March]
A Date with Judy (1948)
Carol Pringle
Julia Misbehaves (1948)
Susan Packett
Cynthia (1947)
Cynthia Bishop
Life with Father (1947)
Mary [Skinner]
Courage of Lassie (1946)
Kathie [Eleanor] Merrick
National Velvet (1945)
Velvet Brown
The White Cliffs of Dover (1944)
Betsy Kenney, age 10
Jane Eyre (1944)
Helen
Lassie Come Home (1943)
Priscilla
There's One Born Every Minute (1942)
Gloria [Ann Twine]

Producer (Feature Film)

The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
Producer
The Guest (1964)
Financial backers

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

A Letter to True (2005)
Other
Get Bruce (1999)
Other
It's Showtime (1976)
Other

Cast (Special)

Intimate Portrait: Elizabeth Taylor (2002)
The 25th Anniversary Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (2002)
AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Barbra Streisand (2001)
Performer
Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Celebration (2001)
Elizabeth Taylor: England's Other Elizabeth (2001)
The 58th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2001)
Presenter
James Bacon: The E! True Hollywood Story (1999)
Interviewee
A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women With Barbara Walters (1999)
Interviewee
Happy Birthday Elizabeth -- A Celebration of Life (1997)
How to Be Absolutely Fabulous (1995)
Herself
The Jackson Family Honors (1994)
Performer
The American Music Awards (1993)
Performer
Elizabeth Taylor (1993)
Michael Jackson Talks... To Oprah -- 90 Primetime Minutes With the King of Pop (1993)
The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1993)
Performer
The American Film Institute Salute to Elizabeth Taylor (1993)
Performer
In a New Light '93 (1993)
Michael Jackson... The Legend Continues (1992)
In a New Light (1992)
The 64th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1992)
Presenter
Entertainers '91: The Top 20 of the Year (1991)
Richard Burton: In From the Cold (1989)
America's All-Star Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor (1989)
Performer
AIDS: The Global Explosion (1988)
Michael Jackson (1988)
Natalie Wood (1987)
The 59th Annual Academy Awards Presentation (1987)
Performer
Liberty Weekend (1986)
An All-Star Celebration Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. (1986)
Bob Hope's High-Flying Birthday (1986)
The 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala (1985)
George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984)
Herself
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Star-Studded Spoof of the New TV Season -- G Rated -- With Glamour, Glitter & Gags (1982)
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Women I Love - Beautiful but Funny (1982)
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Stand Up and Cheer For the National Football League's 60th Year (1981)
General Electric's All-Star Anniversary (1978)
Elizabeth Taylor in London (1963)
Host

Misc. Crew (Special)

The 68th Annual Academy Awards (1996)
Archival Footage
How to Be Absolutely Fabulous (1995)
Other
George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984)
Other

Cast (Short)

That's Entertainment! (Gala Premiere) (1974)
Herself
Just One More Time (1974)
Herself
The Comedians in Africa (1967)
Herself
A Statue for "The Sandpiper" (1965)
Herself
The Big Sur (1965)
Herself
On the Trail of the Iguana (1964)
Herself
Operation Raintree (1957)
Herself

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

North and South (1985)
Divorce His/Divorce Hers (1973)
Jane Reynolds

Life Events

1939

Family left London at the start of WWII and moved to Los Angeles, CA

1941

Signed a contract with Universal Pictures

1942

Signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer eight months after Universal cancelled her contract

1942

Made screen debut at the age of nine in "There's One Born Every Minute"

1943

First film for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, "Lassie Come Home"; also first film opposite Roddy McDowall

1944

Achieved child star status playing the leading role in Clarence Brown's "National Velvet"

1944

Appeared again opposite Roddy McDowall in "The White Cliffs of Dover"

1949

Final adolescent role, playing Amy in the American classic "Little Women"

1950

Co-starred with Spencer Tracy in the romantic comedy "Father of the Bride"

1950

First adult leading role, playing debutante Melinda Grayton in "Conspirator"

1951

Played a beautiful socialite opposite Montgomery Clift in George Stevens' "A Place In The Sun"

1951

Reprised role opposite Spencer Tracy in the sequel "Father's Little Dividend"

1954

Played the lead role in "Elephant Walk"

1956

Achieved critical acclaim playing the female lead in George Stevens's "Giant"; co-starred with Rock Hudson and James Dean

1957

Re-teamed with Montgomery Clift for "Raintree County"; earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination

1958

Co-starred with Paul Newman in Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"; earned a Best Actress Academy Award nomination

1959

Again co-starred with Clift in "Suddenly, Last Summer"; first collaboration with future husband, Eddie Fisher

1960

Awarded a record setting contract of $1 million to portray the title role in "Cleopatra"

1960

Won first Academy Award for playing the lead role in "BUtterfield 8"; co-starred then husband Eddie Fisher

1963

Portrayed the title role of the big-budget feature "Cleopatra"; directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz; Burton, who played Mark Antony, and Taylor began a much publicized off-screen affair during production

1963

Hosted the CBS TV variety special "Elizabeth Taylor in London"

1965

Re-teamed with then husband Richard Burton in "The Sandpiper"

1966

Played Martha opposite Burton's George in Mike Nichols' adaptation of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

1967

Co-starred with Marlon Brando in the John Hudson-directed "Reflections in a Golden Eye"

1967

Again collaborated with Burton for "The Comedians"

1970

Re-teamed with director George Stevens to star in "The Only Game in Town"

1972

Cast opposite Burton and Peter O'Toole in "Under Milk Wood"

1973

Co-starred with Henry Fonda in "Ash Wednesday"

1973

Made TV-movie debut in the two-part "Divorce His, Divorce Hers"; again collaborating with Richard Burton

1980

Last feature film role for 14 years, "The Mirror Crack'd"; also co-starred Rock Hudson

1981

Co-narrated (with Orson Welles) the Holocaust compilation documentary "Genocide"

1981

Made Broadway debut in a revival of Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes"; earned a Tony nomination for Best Actress

1983

Produced a Broadway revival of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" starring herself and Richard Burton; produced through a company she formed titled the Elizabeth Theater Group

1985

Played movie gossip columnist Louella Parsons in the TV-movie "Malice in Wonderland"

1987

Launched first fragrance "Passion"

1988

Hosted syndicated TV documentary special "AIDS: The Global Explosion"

1991

Launched second fragrance "White Diamonds"

1992

Lent her voice for baby Maggie's first word on Fox animated series "The Simpsons"

1994

Returned to features for the live-action film "The Flintstones"

2001

Last major acting performance, the ABC TV-movie "These Old Broads" with Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds, and Joan Collins

Photo Collections

Little Women - Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Behind-the-Scenes Still
In a behind-the-scenes photo, Elizabeth Taylor (in costume for Little Women - 1949) poses with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra (in costume for Take Me Out to the Ball Game - 1949). Both were filming at MGM at the same time.
A Date with Judy - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's A Date with Judy (1948), starring Wallace Beery, Elizabeth Taylor, Jane Powell, and Robert Stack.
Ivanhoe (1952) - Behind-the-Scenes photos - Elizabeth Taylor
Here is a series of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Ivanhoe (1952), as Elizabeth Taylor gets her hair washed prior to shooting.
Little Women (1949) - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from Little Women (1949). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Cat On a Hot Tin Roof - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1958), starring Paul Newman, Elizabeth Taylor, and Burl Ives, and directed by Richard Brooks.
The Sandpiper - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for The Sandpiper (1966). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Suddenly, Last Summer - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster from Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Father of the Bride - Elizabeth Taylor Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here is a group of photos of Elizabeth Taylor taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Father of the Bride (1950).
Reflections in a Golden Eye - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster from Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), starring Marlon Brando and Elizabeth Taylor. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
The V.I.P.s - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for The V.I.P.s (1963). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
4th of July MGM Pin-Up Publicity Stills
Here are a few patriotic-themed 4th of July Pin-Up Stills taken in the late 1940s to promote MGM starlets Ann Miller, Cyd Charisse, Elizabeth Taylor, and Vera-Ellen.
Life with Father - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Warner Bros' Life with Father (1947), starring William Powell, Irene Dunne, and Elizabeth Taylor. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Battleground - Behind-the-Scenes Stills
Here are a number of photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Battleground (1949), directed by William Wellman and starring Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, James Whitmore, George Murphy, and many others.
Giant - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are several photos taken during production and post-production of Giant (1956). Look for director George Stevens, source novel author Edna Ferber, and stars James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson.
Little Women (1949) - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Little Women (1949). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Father's Little Dividend - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from Father's Little Dividend (1951), starring Spencer Tracy and Elizabeth Taylor. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Father of the Bride - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Father of the Bride (1950). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Raintree County - Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for Raintree County (1957). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
Raintree County - Behind-the-Scenes Stills
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Raintree County (1957), starring Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, and directed by Edward Dmytryk.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Elizabeth Taylor - Early Publicity Stills
Here are a few publicity stills of a young Elizabeth Taylor, taken in the early years of her contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
BUtterfield 8 - Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for BUtterfield 8 (1960). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.
BUtterfield 8 - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of BUtterfield 8 (1960), starring Elizabeth Taylor and directed by Daniel Mann.
The Last Time I Saw Paris - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from MGM's The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954), starring Elizabeth Taylor, Van Johnson, and Walter Pidgeon. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
Giant - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Giant (1956), directed by George Stevens. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Ivanhoe - Movie Posters
Following are a few original release American movie posters from Ivanhoe (1952), starring Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, and Joan Fontaine.
Ivanhoe - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from MGM's Ivanhoe (1952), starring Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, and Joan Fontaine. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.
BUtterfield 8 - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for BUtterfield 8 (1960). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Where Eagles Dare - Liz Taylor Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are some photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Where Eagles Dare (1969), as Elizabeth Taylor visits her husband Richard Burton on the set.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Movie Tie-In book
Here is the 1958 Signet Books movie tie-in edition of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Pressbook
Here is the original campaign book (pressbook) for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.

Videos

Movie Clip

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) - We Occupy the Same Cage The drunk and injured Brick (Paul Newman) rejects his wife Maggie (Elizabeth Taylor) in director Richard Brooks' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, 1958, from the Tennessee Williams play.
Sandpiper, The (1965) - Think Of All Those Renaissance Cats Big Sur artist and single mom Laura (Elizabeth Taylor) and friend Larry (James Edwards) are being rebuffed by gallery owner Ellie (Pamela Mason) when Hewitt (Richard Burton), priest and headmaster of the school where her son’s been sent, arrives with a generous attitude, in The Sandpiper< 1965.
Sandpiper, The (1965) - The Father Was Abandoned By Me The first meeting of principals Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in their first picture after Cleopatra, 1963, he’s the Episcopal priest headmaster of a California boarding school, she’s the free-spirited mother of a son sent there by a judge, Eva Marie Saint his wife, in The Sandpiper, 1965.
Sandpiper, The (1965) - It's Either That Or Reform School After the opening in which lightly-parented Big Sur resident Danny (Morgan Mason) shot a deer, he and his artist mother Laura (Elizabeth Taylor) are called before a local judge (Torin Thatcher), Vincente Minnelli directing, early in the Taylor and Richard Burton vehicle The Sandpiper, 1965.
Callaway Went Thataway (1951) - What Would You Say To A Martini? Now in Hollywood, reluctantly convinced to pretend he’s the missing old-time singing cowboy who’s become a TV star, Howard Keel as Shep, impersonating “Smoky Callaway,” escorted by his de facto agents (Fred MacMurray, Dorothy McGuire) blunders with MGM celebrities (Elizabeth Taylor, Clark Gable) at Mocambo, then with the sponsor and wife (Fay Roope, Natalie Schaefer) in Callaway Went Thataway, 1951.
Giant (1956) - You Are An Odd One Leslie (Elizabeth Taylor), new bride of Texas rancher Bick, in a forthright talk while on errands with hired hand Jett (James Dean), director George Stevens interjecting a scene with the sister-in-law (Mercedes McCambridge) teaching the downtrodden Angel (Victor Millan) a lesson, in Giant, 1956.
Giant (1956) - So Fascinating And Uncouth After maybe the biggest single leap in time, still before WWII, the Texan Benedict kids have grown up to be Carroll Baker as Luz II, and Dennis Hopper and Fran Bennett as twins Jordan and Judy (Earl Holliman her boyfriend), perplexing their parents Bick and Leslie (Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor), in Giant, 1956.
Only Game In Town, The (1970) - But Not For Me After the credit sequence establishing Elizabeth Taylor as a weary Las Vegas showgirl, she enters a piano bar where co-star Warren Beatty is the act, George Stevens directing his last feature, from Frank Gilroy’s play and screenplay, in The Only Game In Town, 1970.
Raintree County (1957) - I Like Unladies 1859, Freehaven, Indiana graduating high school senior John (Montgomery Clift) visits the photographer for his yearbook portrait, not expecting to meet Susanna (Elizabeth Taylor), a visiting Southerner who’s noticed him around town, their first direct meeting, in Edward Dmytryk’s Raintree County, 1957, from the novel by Ross Lockridge Jr.
Raintree County (1957) - There's Mommy Now! In Indiana during the war, John Shawnessy (Montgomery Clift) and son Jim (Mickey Maga) greet mother Susanna (Elizabeth Taylor) returned from Indianapolis, who shortly suffers another breakdown, in the Civil War saga Raintree County, 1957.
Raintree County (1957) - These Damn Dolls Tumult in Indiana on the night of Lincoln's election, as John (Montgomery Clift) insults Garwood (Rod Taylor) then tries to rescue his troubled wife Susanna (Elizabeth Taylor) in Raintree County, 1957.
Raintree County (1957) - Better Put On My Pants The 4th of July footrace, with the professor (Nigel Patrick) backing John (Montgomery Clift) who is drunk for the first time, against "Flash" Perkins (Lee Marvin), Nell (Eva Marie Saint) and Susanna (Elizabeth Taylor) spectating, in Raintree County, 1957.

Trailer

Father's Little Dividend - (Original Trailer) In the sequel to Father of the Bride (1950), Spencer Tracy discovers the joys and pains of grandfatherhood.
Cleopatra (1963) -- (Original Trailer) Hefty trailer for the original release of the 20th Century-Fox epic, by then already famous for its gigantic cost and the affair between the stars, for Cleopatra, 1963, with Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Rex Harrison.
Secret Ceremony - (Original Trailer) A tormented rich girl (Mia Farrow) hires a prostitute (Elizabeth Taylor) to act as her mother in Joseph Losey's Secret Ceremony (1968).
Girl Who Had Everything, The - (Original Trailer) Elizabeth Taylor is The Girl Who Had Everything (1953) in this remake of A Free Soul (1931).
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? - (Original Trailer) Elizabeth Taylor won a Best Actress Oscar portraying an academic's harridan wife in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966).
Cynthia -- (Original Trailer) 15-year old Elizabeth Taylor receives her first screen kiss in Cynthia (1947).
X, Y & Zee - (British Trailer) A possessive woman (Elizabeth Taylor) fights to end her husband's affair with a younger woman in X, Y & Zee (1972), co-starring Michael Caine and Susannah York.
Lassie Come Home - (Original Trailer) A faithful collie undertakes an arduous journey to return to his lost family in Lassie Come Home (1943) starring Roddy McDowall.
That's Entertainment! - (Original Trailer) An all-star cast, including Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire, introduce clips from MGM's greatest musicals in That's Entertainment! (1974).
Father of the Bride (1950) - (Original Trailer) A doting father (Spencer Tracy) faces mountains of bills and endless trials when his daughter (Elizabeth Taylor) marries in Father of the Bride (1950), directed by Vincente Minnelli.
Beau Brummell (1954) - (Original Trailer) An English Don Juan (Stewart Granger) courts the Prince of Wales's favor while romancing his way through society in Beau Brummell (1954).
Giant - (Original Trailer) A Texas ranching family fights to survive changing times in Giant (1956) starring James Dean, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor.

Promo

Family

Francis Taylor
Father
Art dealer. American.
Sara Taylor
Mother
Actor. American; born in 1895; died in 1994 at age of 99.
Howard Taylor
Brother
Older.
Michael Wilding
Son
Actor, restaurateur. Born on January 6, 1953; father, Michael Wilding; daughter Laele (born in 1961) gave birth to Taylor's first great-grandchild, Finnian McMurray on August 23, 1998.
Christopher Wilding
Son
Photographer, film editor. Born on February 27, 1955; from 1981 to 1989 was married to Aileen Getty (born in 1959; granddaughter of J Paul Getty; tested positive for AIDS c. 1990); had two children together Caleb, born c. 1983) and Andrew (born c. 1985).
Elizabeth Tivey
Daughter
Born on August 6, 1957; father Mike Todd.
Maria Carson
Daughter
Born c. 1961; German orphan adopted with Richard Burton in 1964.

Companions

Nicholas Conrad Hilton Jr
Husband
Hotelier. Married on May 6, 1950; divorced in January 29, 1951.
Stanley Donen
Companion
Director. Together briefly in 1951.
Michael Wilding
Husband
Actor. Married on February 21, 1952, filed for divorce on October 4, 1956.
Mike Todd
Husband
Producer, promoter, showman. Married on February 2, 1957 until his death in a plane crash in New Mexico on March 23, 1958.
Eddie Fisher
Husband
Singer; actor. Married in 1959; divorced on March 6, 1964.
Richard Burton
Husband
Actor. Married on March 15, 1964 in Montreal; divorced on June 26, 1974; remarried on October 1975; divorced again in summer 1976; died in 1984.
John Warner
Husband
Politician, US Senator. Married on December 4, 1976; divorced on November 7, 1982; Republican Senator from Virginia.
Victor Luna
Companion
Attorney. Mexican; Taylor broke off engagement in August 1984.
Dennis Stein
Companion
Business executive. Taylor broke off engagement in 1985.
Larry Fortensky
Husband
Teamster; construction-equipment operator. Married on October 6, 1991 at Michael Jackson's "Neverland" ranch in Santa Ynez, California; born in 1952 in Stanton, California; met at the Betty Ford Clinic in 1987; has one daughter by first wife, Julie Fortensky (born 1972); filed for divorce in February 1996; divorced in November 1996.

Bibliography

"The Most Beautiful Woman in the World: The Obsessions, Passions and Courage of Elizabeth Taylor"
Ellis Amburn, HarperCollins (2000)
"Liz: An Intimate Biography of Elizabeth Taylor"
C. David Heymann, Birch Lane Press (1995)
"Elizabeth Taylor Takes Off: On Weight Gain, Weight Loss, Self Esteem and Self Image"
Elizabeth Taylor (1988)
"Elizabeth Taylor: Her Life, Her Loves, Her Future"
Ruth Waterbury, Bantam Books (1982)
"Elizabeth Taylor"
Tom Hutchinson, Galley Press (1982)
"Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star"
Kitty Kelly (1981)
"Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor?"
Brenda Maddox, Hart-Davis-MacGibbon (1977)
"Richard and Elizabeth"
Lester David and Jhan Robbins, Arthur Baker (1977)
"For Love of Liz"
Joan Joseph, Manor Books (1976)
"Elizabeth--The Life and Career of Elizabeth Taylor"
Dick Sheppard, W.H. Allen & Co. (1975)
"Elizabeth Taylor"
Ruth Waterbury, Robert Hale Publishers (1964)
"This is Liz Taylor"
Alistair Revie, Consul Books (1962)
"Nibbles and Me"
Elizabeth Taylor (1946)
"Elizabeth Taylor"
Pyramid Books

Notes

She is called 'Elizabeth' by her friends, NEVER 'Liz'.

"The more, the better, has always been my motto."---Elizabeth Taylor quoted in TV Guide, June 4, 1994.

"I'm a dedicated amateur."---Elizabeth Taylor on her acting career.

Made a Dame of the British Empire in December 1999.

Named Commander Arts and Letters by French government in 1985.

Received French Legion of Honor in 1987.

Recipient of Aristotle S. Onassis Foundation Award in 1988 for her AIDS work.

Taylor's box-office record during her peak years is impressive. She placed 2nd in 1958, 4th in 1960, 1st in 1961 (dethroning for one year only the reigning queen of the first half of the 1960s, Doris Day), 6th in 1962 and 1963, 9th in 1965, 3rd in 1966, 6th in 1967 and 10th in 1968.

Taylor underwent replacement surgery on both hips in 1995.

In 1997, Taylor underwent surgery for a benign brain tumor.

Taylor fell in her home on February 27, 1998 (her 66th birthday) and suffered a compression fracture in her lower back.

She re-injured her back in another fall in her home in August 1999.

"I always felt that [Taylor] lived, not in the real world, but in an MGM world. She can't just have an illness. She has to be Camille on her deathbed. We don't live in the same world. Not long ago we were on the same plane. I was in business class, she was in first class with an entourage, so I thought it best not to go through those curtains. Afterwards I was told she'd complained that 'she never comes to say hello to me.' The way she phrased that says a lot. She expected me to pay homage to her."---Carroll Baker, Taylor's co-star in "Giant" told the London Times, June 26, 2000.

Taylor was awarded the Presidential Citizen's Medal in January 2001 on behalf of her humanitarian work.

"I got very tongue-tied meeting Elizabeth Taylor. I'm a huge fan. I met Elizabeth with Hugh when she invited us around once for a holiday celebration. I became the village idiot, very shy and gauche, but she was absolutely charming."---Elizabeth Hurly

Elizabeth Taylor underwent radiation therapy in June 2002 to treat basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer.

November 2004, Elizabeth Taylor was diagnosed with congestive heart failure