Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, DBE (February 27, 1932 March 23, 2011) was a British-American actress.
She was born in London to American expatriates who moved back to the US in 1939. She started as a child actress in the 1940s, and became famous with movies like Lassie Come Home, National Velvet and Little Women. She made a successful transition to adult roles in Father of the Bride and A Place in the Sun. After a series of somewhat forgettable films, she appeared in Giant along with James Dean, then was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress four consecutive times for Raintree County, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly, Last Summer and Butterfield 8. She won for the last one, which was widely seen as a Consolation Award (even by Taylor herself).
In 1963, she appeared in the big-budget historical epic Cleopatra, for which she received a record-breaking $1 million. During production, she started a relationship with her co-star Richard Burton, which caused a huge scandal because they were both married at the time. Cleopatra went way over budget, and became the most expensive film ever made; despite being the highest-grossing movie in 1963, it still was considered a failure.
Taylor and Burton got married in 1964 and made several movies together. The most famous is Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, for which Taylor won her second Oscar. Her performance in the film is widely regarded as the best of her career. In 1967, she and Burton starred in a film adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew. This was her last really memorable role. She and Burton divorced in 1974, remarried in 1975, and divorced again in 1976. After 1980, she largely switched to television. Her last theatrical film role was in The Flintstones in 1994; her final live-action role was in the Made-for-TV Movie These Old Broads in 2001.note
From the '80s, she devoted much time to AIDS-related charities after her friend and co-star Rock Hudson died of the disease. She also developed her own brand of fragrances which brought her more money than her acting career.
Her personal life attracted much attention. Apart from her marriages to Burton, she was married six other times: to hotel heir Conrad "Nicky" Hilton (1950-1951), actor Michael Wilding (1952-1957), producer Mike Todd (1957-1958, he died in a plane crash), singer Eddie Fisher (1959-1964 - for added bonus, he left first wife Debbie Reynolds for Taylor), U.S. Senator John Warner (1976-1982) and construction worker Larry Fortensky (1991-1996).
She died on 23 March 2011 from congestive heart failure.
- Jane Eyre (1943)
- Lassie Come Home (1943)
- National Velvet (1944)
- Life with Father (1947)
- Julia Misbehaves (1948)
- Little Women (1949)
- Father of the Bride (1950)
- A Place in the Sun (1951)
- Ivanhoe (1952)
- Giant (1956)
- Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
- Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
- Cleopatra (1963)
- The V.I.P.s (1963)
- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
- The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
- The Blue Bird (1976)
- The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
- Genocide (1981) — documentary, narrator
- The Flintstones (1994)
This actress' work and media appearances provided examples of:
- '50s Hair: Along with Marilyn Monroe, she is a prominent reference for the standard '50s do for women.
- Age Lift: Was about ten years older than the actual Cleopatra at the beginning of the movie (which encompasses 18 years).
- Creator Backlash: She never liked Butterfield 8, not even after winning her first Oscar for it. She didn't want to do it in the first place, but she had a contractual obligation.
- Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Famously adorned herself with diamonds—and we're not talking a tasteful solitaire or two. Her many, many multi-million dollar, diamond-encrusted ornaments are now considered museum-quality pieces.
- Former Child Star: Aversion: she was famous as a child actress but even more famous as an adult.
- Method Acting: Taylor's husband died shortly after filming for Cat On a Hot Tin Roof started. Cast as the main female lead, and wanting to fulfill her contractual obligation with MGM, Taylor resumed work after a very short period of time. She says that she dealt with it at first by becoming Maggie the Cat. In fact, for a good while after his death, if she didn't speak in Maggie's accent, she developed a terrible stutter.
- Platonic Life-Partners: With fellow actor Montgomery Clift and later with singer Michael Jackson.
- Jackson's song Liberian Girl was dedicated to her, and Taylor herself defended Jackson amid the controversial interview with Martin Bashir.
- Playing Gertrude: In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she played a character in her fifties at 34. Her casting surprised many people, but she proved to be very convincing, even winning her second Oscar for the role.
- Pretty in Mink: Has worn furs in her films, and some DVD collections of her films use a picture of her in a red dress with a white fox wrap.
- Promoted Fanboy: A fan of General Hospital, in 1981, she called the executive producer and asked for a cameo role. She got the role of Helena Cassadine.
- Real-Life Relative: She and her real-life husband Richard Burton in the films they made together.
- Special Guest: In The Simpsons episode, "Lisa's First Word", where she had just one line, but an important one; Maggie's first (and for a long time, only) word: "Daddy...". She also appeared in "Krusty Gets Kancelled" as one of the many celebrities invited to appear on Krusty's comeback special. She declines, though she regrets her decision when the show is a success.
- Trolling Creator: She once dressed up as Carol Burnett's washerwoman character (complete with mop and bucket) and dropped by the set of All My Children when Burnett was shooting a guest spot and, with the producers' approval, forced herself into the scene for a moment before wandering off. Burnett, being a pro, simply rolled with it.
- Typecasting: Up until Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Taylor was almost always played as a lonesome femme fatale.
- What Beautiful Eyes!:
- Her eyes were a vivid dark blue, almost violet. It became her signature physical characteristic in media, due to the rarity of violet as an eye color. At one time she even marketed a fragrance called "Violet Eyes."
- She also had a medical condition, entropion, which caused a double set of eyelashes, which contributed even more to her remarkable eyes. Learning of the condition at her birth, her parents joked that their baby was "born to be a movie star."