The last goddess has finally departed the Hollywood firmament.
The era is now over; Elizabeth Taylor, Oscar winning actress died Wednesday in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure, surrounded by her four children. She was 79.
No one who has had the pleasure of experiencing this dark and mysterious beauty on the big screen will likely forget her indelible presence.
The former child star, with the unforgettable violet eyes was one of Hollywood’s greatest legends; Both on the screen and off. She graced the tabloids for countless decades; with her eight marriages to seven husbands.
She was also a tireless worker in the field of human rights. Her son Michael Wilding hailed his mother’s legacy as an actress and advocate.
“Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world. Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished,” he said. “Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts.”
Elizabeth Taylor was the greatest star of her era, male or female. She commanded a record $1 million per film.
She was royalty, travelling with her own court, buying diamonds and all the trappings of the bygone Hollywood aristocracy, throughout 1980s and ’90s, when most celebrities kept a low profile.
She had the talent to be a truly great actress but claimed she never had enough ambition. Yet she was nominated five times, winning two Oscars.
Taylor was born Feb. 27, 1932, in London to American parents. She had her first ballet lesson at age 3, and when she was 7, her parents returned to the U.S. and settled in Los Angeles, where her father operated an art gallery in the Beverly Hills Hotel.
Taylor became a star at the age of 12 in National Velvet (1944); And she remained one for more than half a century.
Some of her more memorable roles include: She was one of William Powell’s children in Life With Father (1947); Little Women (1949); She was Spencer Tracy’s daughter in Vincente Minnelli’s Father of the Bride (1950); and her coming of age film opposite Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun (1951). Other grand productions followed: George Stevens’ Giant (1956); with Rock Hudson and James Dean; Around the World in 80 Days (1956); Raintree County (1957); she played opposite Paul Newman in Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958); Suddenly Last Summer (1959); winning the Oscar in 1960 for Butterfield 8; and the seductive Cleopatra with Richard Burton and Rex Harrison (1963).
Perhaps her greatest performance, which earned her second Oscar in 1966, was the alcoholic professor’s wife, opposite her two time husband Richard Burton in Mike Nichols Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf She teamed beautifully with Burton again in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1967 film, The Taming of the Shrew.
In 1985, after the death of her friend Hudson, Taylor became a founding co-chairman for amfAR (the American Foundation for AIDS Research). She would travel the world, calling attention to and raising funds for AIDS research and care. In 1993, she received the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences’ Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
She received the American Film Institute, Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993. At the ceremony she confessed “You make me realize how much I miss acting, but my life is full and good,”
“We have just lost a Hollywood giant,” said Elton John, a longtime friend of Taylor. “More importantly, we have lost an incredible human being.”
Elizabeth Taylor is survived by four children, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.