Elizabeth Taylor dies at 79 – legend of film, life, HIV-AIDS philanthropy — Legendary film actress Elizabeth Taylor has died. Ms. Taylor was an Academy Award-winning star of cinema and is perhaps as equally well known for her early activism in the cause of battling HIV/AIDS and her passionate way of life.
PHOTOS: Pictures of Elizabeth Taylor throughout her life and career.
Ms. Taylor passed away Wednesday from congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, according to statements released by her publicist and family. Family members were at her side. The actress had been hospitalized for six weeks.
Her familly asks that instead of flowers, donations be made in her name to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.org.
Elizabeth Taylor began her career in film as a child actor. She performed at the age of 12 in National Velvet. She was nominated five times for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won twice. Her nominations were for her roles in Raintree County (1957); Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958); and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). Her two wins were for her work in BUtterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). In 1993, she was given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. Other roles include the iconic Cleopatra in 1963 and Giant in 1956.
Ms. Taylor lived her life with exuberance. One visible sign of her zest for life was her many marriages. The actress married eight times — twice to the same man, Richard Burton. She married, in order: hotel heir Conrad Hilton; actor, artist Michael Wilding; producer, Michael Todd; singer, Eddie Fisher; actor, Richard Burton (then remarried Mr. Burton); Senator and former Secretary of the Navy, John Warner; and construction worker, Larry Fortensky. The actress was also longtime friends with other entertainers such as Michael Jackson, with whom she bonded as a fellow child star.
In the 1980s, when people were afraid of, as well as judgmental of, those who had contracted the new disease of HIV/AIDS, Ms. Taylor spoke out, saying that people who are ill should not be shunned by society. She began raising money for research and treatment and continued that effort through her foundation for the rest of her life. Her work raised millions of dollars for the cause.
Interestingly, Ms. Taylor was a dual citizen of the United States and Great Britain. She was born in Hampstead, London, UK on February 27, 1932, of American parents. In 1999, she was given the British honor of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
In addition to being known for her acting, her on-screen beauty including her violet eyes, her vibrant lifestyle, and loyal philanthropy, Ms. Taylor was also known as a businesswoman. Her commercials for her fragrance, White Diamonds, still occasionally air on television.
Ms. Taylor is survived by four children — two sons and two daughters — and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor.
VIDEO: See the trailer for Cleopatra here or in the lefthand column of this page.
PHOTOS: See pictures of Elizabeth Taylor throughout her life and career here or in the lefthand column of this page.
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