"Success is a great deodorant. It takes away all your past smells." Elizabeth Taylor
One of the most beautiful screen legends in her era, Elizabeth Taylor won double Oscars for starring in Butterfield 8 (1960, opposite Eddie Fisher) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966, alongside Richard Burton). The fiery movie icon gained her first fame as a child-star in National Velvet (1944, with Mickey Rooney) and later played Oscar-nominated roles in films like Raintree County (1957, opposite Montgomery Clift), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958, opposite Paul Newman) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959, with Katharine Hepburn and Mercedes McCambridge) as well as became the first actress to earn $1,000,000 (U.S.) for starring in the lavish movie Cleopatra (1963, alongside Richard Burton).
5'4" tall Elizabeth Taylor, whose trademark is her violet eyes, had 36C-21-36 measurements for the majority of her film career. She was one of Empire magazine’s “The 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History (1995), Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" (October 1997) and Entertainment Weekly’s “Greatest Movie Star of All Time. The award-winning actress, who appeared solo on the cover of People magazine 14 times (second only to Princess Diana, as of 1996), was also listed in the American Film Institutes’ “50 Greatest American Screen Legends” and Premiere Magazine’s “Greatest Movie Star of All Time.” The England born actress, who has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, received the title “Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire” from Queen Elizabeth in 1999.
73-year-old Elizabeth Taylor is now a mother of four, grandmother of nine and great-grandmother of four. The former screen beauty, who considers King of Pop Michael Jackson among her closest friends, has been married eight times to seven husbands: hotel heir Nicky Hilton, actor Michael Wilding, producer Mike Todd, singer Eddie Fisher, actor Richard Burton, Senator John Warner and Larry Fortensky. Her past relationships include director Stanley Donen, attorney Victor Luna, business executive Dennis Stein and actor Montgomery Clift.
Childhood and Family:
In Hampstead, London, UK, Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932, to American parents (originally from Arkansas City, Kansas): Francis Lenn Taylor (Scottish-Irish descent, art dealer; December 28, 1897-November 20, 1968) and Sara Viola Warmbrodt (German descent, stage actress; August 21, 1896-September 11, 1994). The second child of the family, Elizabeth Taylor, nicknamed Liz, has an older brother named Howard Taylor (born 1929). 7-year-old Elizabeth followed her family when they moved from London to Los Angeles just before World War II broke out in Europe in 1939. She attended Byron House School, Hawthorne School and studied ballet with Vaccani. Elizabeth also enrolled at University High School, Los Angeles, California, and received her high school diploma on January 26, 1950.
"I don't pretend to be an ordinary housewife." Elizabeth Taylor
Elizabeth Taylor has been married eight times. On May 6, 1950, she tied the knot with hotel heir Nicky Hilton, but they divorced later that year on January 29, 1951. She then married actor Michael Wilding on February 21, 1952, but they divorced on January 26, 1957. On February 2, 1957, Taylor exchanged wedding vows with producer Mike Todd and remained his wife until his death on March 22, 1958. The next year, on May 12, 1959, Taylor married singer Eddie Fisher (b. August 10, 1928). On March 6, 1964, she divorced Fisher to marry actor Richard Burton (b. November 10, 1925) on March 15, 1964. Ten years later, on June 26, 1974, they divorced but remarried on October 10, 1975 and divorced again on July 29, 1976. Taylor’s next husband was Republican Senator John Warner (b. February 18, 1927), whom she married on December 4, 1976 and divorced on November 7, 1982. After nearly nine years remaining single, Taylor married teamster construction-equipment operator Larry Fortensky on October 6, 1991, but their marriage also ended in divorce on October 31, 1996.
From her marriages, Taylor has four children: sons Christopher Wilding (photographer, film editor; born on February 27, 1955) and Michael Wilding, Jr. (actor, restaurateur; born on January 6, 1953; father: Michael Wilding) and daughters Maria Carson (born in 1961; German orphan, adopted with Richard Burton in 1964) and Elizabeth Frances Todd (born on August 6, 1957; father: Mike Todd). She also has nine grandchildren, including grandsons Andrew (born 1985; father: Christopher Wilding), Caleb (born 1983; father: Christopher Wilding), Quinn (mother: Elizabeth Frances Todd) and Rhys (mother: Elizabeth Frances Todd), and granddaughters Laele Wilding (father: Michael Wilding, Jr.), Naomi (father: Michael Wilding, Jr.) and Elizabeth (mother: Maria Carson). Taylor is also a great-grandmother of four.
"What? Are you kidding?" Elizabeth Taylor replied when asked if she would get married again.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Having begun taking ballet lessons by age 3 and once performed before the Royal Family, Elizabeth Taylor then tried to take a screen test. She was directly signed by Universal Pictures, with whom 10-year-old Taylor made her motion picture debut in Harold Young's comedy There's One Born Every Minute (1942, starring Hugh Herbert). After being dropped by Universal, Taylor was signed by MGM and began working with the studio in Fred M. Wilcox's adaptation of Eric Knight's novel, Lassie Come Home (1943, with Roddy McDowall and Donald Crisp).
After an unaccredited role in Jane Eyre and The White Cliffs of Dover, Taylor enjoyed child-star status when she starred as Velvet Brown, a 1920s working-class girl who dreams of owning a horse, in Clarence Brown's poignant family story based on Enid Bagnold's novel, National Velvet (1944, alongside Mickey Rooney). Two years later, she played the lead role of a teenager who nurses Lassie in Fred M. Wilcox's Courage of Lassie (1946) and costarred with William Powell and Irene Dunne in Michael Curtiz's delightful comedy based on Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse's Broadway play, the Oscar-nominated Life with Father (1947).
More film works followed. Taylor was cast to play the title role in Robert Z. Leonard's screen version of Viña Delmar's play, the drama comedy Cynthia (1947), joined Jane Powell and Wallace Beery in Richard Thorpe's postwar musical comedy A Date with Judy (1948) and played Greer Garson's daughter in Jack Conway's comedy Julia Misbehaves (1948). She also costarred as an artistic daughter in producer-director Mervyn LeRoy's film adopted from Louisa May Alcott's novel, Little Women and got her first adult role as the giddy young wife of Robert Taylor's character in Victor Saville's Conspirator (both in 1949).
In the early 1950s, Taylor costarred with Van Johnson in writer-director Norman Krasna's comedy The Big Hangover, played Spencer Tracy's going-to-be-married daughter in Vincente Minnelli's adaptation of Edward Streeter's novel, the hugely popular Father of the Bride and reprised her role in its sequel, Father's Little Dividend. She also costarred with Montgomery Clift in George Stevens' lavish adaptation of Theodore Dreiser's novel and Patrick Kearney's play, A Place in the Sun and starred as a dance instructor in Stanley Donen's romantic comedy Love Is Better Than Ever (opposite Larry Parks). Richard Thorpe then cast her to costar with Robert Taylor in his adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's 1819 novel, the Oscar-nominating Ivanhoe (1952).
Taylor added to her acting resume such films as The Girl Who Had Everything, Rhapsody, Elephant Walk, Beau Brummell and The Last Time I Saw Paris. After receiving applause for playing Rock Hudson's wife in George Stevens' screen version of Edna Ferber's best-selling family saga, Giant (1956), Taylor earned her first Best Actress Oscar nomination for portraying intriguing southern belle Susanna in Edward Dmytryk's romantic drama film based on Ross Lockridge Jr.'s novel, Raintree County (1957, with Montgomery Clift).
The second Best Actress Oscar nomination arrived in 1958 when director Richard Brooks handed her the female lead as "Maggie The Cat," the wife of a star athlete-turned-drunk (played by Paul Newman), in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, based on Tennessee Williams' play. Another Oscar’s Best Actress came after she costarred with Katharine Hepburn, playing traumatic girl Catherine Holly, in Gore Vidal's stark, powerful screen adaptation of Tennessee Williams's play, Suddenly Last Summer (1959). She eventually took home Oscar’s Best Actress thanks to the portrayal of Gloria Wandrous, a sophisticated call girl wanting to go straight, in Daniel Mann's screen adaptation of O'Hara's novel, Butterfield 8 (1960).
After being hospitalized with pneumonia and receiving a widely publicized emergency tracheotomy, Taylor nabbed the title role of Egyptian queen Cleopatra in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's epic, spectacular love story inspired by Carlo Mario Franzero's book, Cleopatra (1963, opposite off-screen companion Richard Burton). The lavish production also marked Taylor with a record salary of $1 million. Commenting on Cleopatra (1963), Taylor said, "Surely the most bizarre piece of entertainment ever to be perpetrated."
Following The V.I.P.s (1963) and The Sandpiper (1965), Taylor won her second Best Actress Oscar for portraying the vituperative, vicious wife of an alcoholic professor (Richard Burton) in Mike Nichols' propitious debut feature based on the controversial play by Edward Albee, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966). She subsequently starred as wild and violent Katharina in Franco Zeffirelli's directional debut, the earthy, robust version of the classic Shakespeare comedy, The Taming of the Shrew (1967, reunited with Richard Burton, Taylor also produced) and acted in the subsequent films Doctor Faustus, Reflections in a Golden Eye, The Comedians, Boom, and Secret Ceremony.
The early 1970s saw Taylor starring in the films The Only Game in Town, Zee and Co. (a.k.a. X, Y and Zee), Under Milk Wood and Hammersmith Is Out. She also made her first TV movie with then-husband Richard Burton, the two-part Divorce His/Divorce Hers (1973). She returned to the big screen playing roles as an upper crust widow recovering from a nervous breakdown in Brian G. Hutton's adaptation of Lucille Fletcher's play, the English thriller Night Watch (1973) and a frumpy housewife undergoing plastic surgery in Larry Peerce's Ash Wednesday (1973, with Henry Fonda). Giuseppe Patroni Griffi's then offered her the part of a schizophrenic spinster in Identikit (1974, a.k.a. The Driver's Seat) and Harold Prince asked her to play Len Cariou's ex lover, the famous actress Desiree Armfeldt, in the musical comedy A Little Night Music (1977). She also went back to television, playing a professor of ancient history who has an affair with a handsome young college student, in Return Engagement (1978).
In subsequent years, Taylor rarely appeared on the silver screen. After a supporting role in Guy Hamilton's adaptation of Agatha Christie's novel, The Mirror Crack'd (1980, starring Angela Lansbury), Taylor acted primarily on TV in the series "General Hospital," "All My Children" and the TV movies Between Friends (1983), Malice in Wonderland (1985), There Must Be a Pony (1986), Poker Alice (1987), as well as the miniseries "North and South" (1985). During that time, Taylor made her Broadway stage debut in a revival of Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes" in 1981. She also produced revivals of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" (starring her and Richard Burton) and "The Corn Is Green" (starring Cicely Tyson and Peter Gallagher) on Broadway through her own company, the Elizabeth Theater Group.
In 1988, Taylor returned to the big screen costarring with C. Thomas Howell in Franco Zeffirelli's Giovane Toscanini, Il (a.k.a. Young Toscanini), but soon acted on a made-for-TV movie again in the second film production of Tennessee William's 1959 play, Sweet Bird of Youth (1989), playing a failing, aging movie star. She also appeared in Brian Levant's live-action version of the beloved cartoon series, The Flintstones (1994, starring John Goodman) and joined Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins and Debbie Reynolds in the comedy TV movie These Old Broads (2001).
Adding to her acting career, Taylor branched out in business. She recently teaming up with Jack and Monty Abramov of Mirabelle Luxury Concepts in Los Angeles to introduce the House of Taylor Jewelry and had launched two perfumes, "Passion" and "White Diamonds." As for humanity, Taylor is an active supporter of AIDS-related charities and fundraising, and helped form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR, following the death of her former co-star and friend, Rock Hudson).
"One problem with people who have no vices is that they're pretty sure to have some annoying virtues." Elizabeth Taylor
- Taos Talking Picture Festival: Maverick Award, 2001
- GLAAD Media: Vanguard Award, 2000
- BAFTA: Academy Fellowship, 1999
- Screen Actors Guild: Life Achievement Award, 1998
- Academy Awards: Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, 1993
- American Film Institute: Life Achievement Award, 1993
- Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: statuette presented by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; shared award with Audrey Hepburn, 1992
- Film Society of Lincoln Center: Gala Tribute, 1986
- Women in Film Crystal: Crystal Award, 1985
- Golden Globe: Cecil B. DeMille Award, 1985
- Cecil B. DeMille Award: Life Achievement, presented by Hollywood Foreign Press Association, 1985
- Theatre World: The Little Foxes; special citation marking her Broadway debut, 1981
- Special Outer Critics Circle: Debut, The Little Foxes, 1981
- Golden Globe: World Film Favorite—Female, 1973
- Berlin Film Festival Best Actress: Hammersmith Is Out, 1972
- National Board of Review: Best Actress, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966
- New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actress, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?; tied with Lynn Redgrave for Georgy Girl, 1966
- Academy Awards: Best Actress, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966
- British Film Academy: Best British Actress, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966
- Academy Awards: Best Actress, Butterfield 8, 1960
- Golden Globe: Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Drama), Suddenly, Last Summer, 1959
- Special Golden Globe: Consistent Performance, 1956