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 actor 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, A Place in the Sun and Ivanhoe (speaking of which, he co-star Robert Taylor was not related to her). 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 latter, 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)note , 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 at age 79.
- 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 Comedians (1967)
- The Taming of the Shrew (1967)
- The Blue Bird (1976)
- The Mirror Crack'd (1980)
- Genocide (1981) — documentary, narrator
- The Flintstones (1994)
Taylor's 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 actor but even more famous as an adult.
- Historical Domain Character: She was portrayed in the 2022 film Devotion by Serinda Swan, encountering the film's leads Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner while they're on shore leave in Cannes, France.
- Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: After contracting pneumonia during early production of Cleopatra she had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy. The procedure left her with a prominent scar on her throat.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Michael Jackson and she also became very close friends with Colin Farrell at the start of his career.
- 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 actors Roddy McDowall and Montgomery Clift and later with singer Michael Jackson and Colin Farrell.
- Jackson's song Liberian Girl was dedicated to her, and Taylor herself defended Jackson amid the controversial interview with Martin Bashir.
- 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. She appeared in the episode where Luke and Laura got married — the highest-rated episode of any soap opera in daytime history.
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: When in her young adult time, she had midnight black hair and skin that shamed fallen snow.
- Real-Life Relative: She and her real-life husband Richard Burton in the films they made together.
- Reclusive Artist: She worked less and less as time went on and made very few public appearances, both before and after her retirement.
- Serial Spouse: She was famously married eight times to seven husbands (marrying Richard Burton twice), which drew a lot of media attention. One of her husbands died in a plane crash, while the rest of her marriages ended in divorce. Single for the last 15 years of her life, she reportedly said that if she could do it all over again, she'd only have married Mike Todd (husband #3, the one who died in a plane crash) and Richard Burton (husband #4 and #5, with the first of their two marriages being her longest at ten years).
- 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.
- Undying Loyalty: To Montgomery Clift. She was the only star not to desert him after his 1956 car crash and subsequent battles with alcohol and painkillers.
- Unkempt Beauty: Not most of the time, but according to Hollywood legend, the event that convinced Richard Burton to propose was seeing her fresh out of bed, with pillow hair and no make-up, and dressed in decidedly unsexy flannel pyjamas.
- 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, distichiasis, 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."