Elizabeth Taylor was born in Hampstead, London, the second
child of Francis Lenn Taylor (December 28, 1897 – November 20,
1968) and Sara Viola Warmbrodt (August 21, 1896 – September 11,
1994), who were Americans residing in Britain. Her older brother
is Howard Taylor (born in 1929). On her father's side, Taylor is
a direct descendant of Hugh Bigod, 3rd Earl of Norfolk, Malcolm
II of Scotland, Kenneth II of Scotland and Geoffrey V, Count of
Though sometimes referred to as "Liz," Elizabeth Taylor is not fond of that name and prefers her given name to be pronounced Eee-lizabeth. Elizabeth Taylor's first names (Dame Elizabeth Rosemond) are in honor of her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Taylor, who was born Elizabeth Mary Rosemond.
Elizabeth was born with U.S. nationality. Both of her American parents were originally from Arkansas City, Kansas. Elizabeth Taylor's father was an art dealer and her mother a former actress whose stage name was Sara Sothern. Sara retired from the stage when she and Francis Taylor married in 1926 in New York.
At the age of 3, Taylor began taking ballet lessons. After the UK entered World War II, her parents decided to return to the United States to avoid hostilities. Her mother took the children first, while her father remained in London to wrap up matters in the art business. They settled in Los Angeles, California, where Sara's family, the Warmbrodts, were then living.
Elizabeth appeared in her first motion picture at the age of 9 for Universal. They let Elizabeth Taylor's contract drop, and she was signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Elizabeth Taylor's first movie with that studio was Lassie Come Home (1943), which drew favorable attention. After a couple more movies, the second on loan-out to 20th Century Fox, Elizabeth Taylor appeared in her first leading role and achieved child star status playing Velvet Brown, a young girl who trains a horse to win the Grand National in Clarence Brown's movie National Velvet (1944) with Mickey Rooney. National Velvet was a big hit, grossing over $4,000,000 at the box-office, and she was signed to a long-term contract.
Elizabeth Taylor attended school on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer lot and received a diploma from University High School in Los Angeles on January 26, 1950, the same year she was first married at age 18.
Elizabeth won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performances in BUtterfield 8 (1960), which co-starred then husband Eddie Fisher, and again for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), which co-starred then-husband Richard Burton and the Supporting Actress Oscar-winner, Sandy Dennis.
Elizabeth was nominated for Raintree County (1957) opposite Montgomery Clift, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) opposite Paul Newman, and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) with Clift, Katharine Hepburn and Mercedes McCambridge.
In 1963, Elizabeth Taylor became the highest paid movie star up until that time when she accepted $1,000,000 to play the title role in the lavish production of Cleopatra for 20th Century Fox. It was during the filming of that movie that she worked for the first time with future husband Richard Burton, who played Mark Antony. Movie magazines, the forerunners of today's tabloids, had a field day when Taylor and Burton began an affair during filming; both stars were married to other people at the time. In a romantic entanglement that had tongues wagging on every continent, Taylor would trade in husband Eddie Fisher for Burton not long after Fisher had unceremoniously ditched wife Debbie Reynolds for Taylor. Years later, Burton would slyly refer to the whole mess as "la scandale". The episode cemented Taylor's reputation as a dark, hypnotic femme fatale (who was condemned by the Vatican), boosted Reynolds' career as a blonde, all-American sweetheart, and elevated Burton to the front ranks of film stars. Only Fisher did not really profit from the cascade of free publicity.
Elizabeth Taylor has been married eight times to seven husbands:
Elizabeth and Wilding had two sons, Michael Howard Wilding (born January 6, 1953), and Christopher Edward Wilding (born February 27, 1955). She and Todd had one daughter, Elizabeth Frances Todd, called "Liza," (born August 6, 1957). And in 1964, she and Fisher started adoption proceedings for a daughter, whom Burton later adopted, Maria Burton (born August 1, 1961). During her marriage to Fisher, Taylor converted to Reform Judaism (having been born into the Christian Science religion.) She remains Jewish to this day, having referred to herself as such several times. In her book Elizabeth Takes Off, Taylor writes, "My conversion to Judaism had absolutely nothing to do with my past marriage to Mike Todd or my upcoming marriage to Eddie Fisher, both of whom were Jewish. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time."
Elizabeth Taylor has also appeared a number of times on
television, including the 1973 made-for-TV movie with then
husband Richard Burton, titled Divorce His - Divorce Hers. In
1985, she played movie gossip columnist Louella Parsons in
Malice in Wonderland opposite Jane Alexander, who played Hedda
Hopper, and also appeared in the mini-series North and South. In
2001, she played an agent in These Old Broads. She has also
appeared on a number of other TV shows, including the soap
operas General Hospital and All My Children and the animated The
Simpsons (once as herself, and once as the voice of Maggie).
Elizabeth has also acted on the stage, making her Broadway and West End debuts in 1982 with a revival of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes. Elizabeth Taylor was then in a production of Noel Coward's Private Lives (1983), in which she starred with her former husband, Richard Burton.
Taylor has a passion for jewelry. Over the years Elizabeth Taylor has owned a number of well known pieces, two of the most talked about being the 33.19 carat (6.638 g) Krupp Diamond and the 69.42 carat (13.884 g) pear-shaped Taylor-Burton Diamond, which were among many dazzling gifts from husband Richard Burton. Her enduring collection of jewelry has been eternalized with her book My Love Affair with Jewelry (2002). In 2005, she partnered with Jack and Monty Abramov of Mirabelle Luxury Concepts in Los Angeles to introduce the House of Taylor Jewelry. In 2005, House of Taylor Jewelry formed a partnership with Kathy Ireland Worldwide, a design-and-marketing firm with more than $1 billion in annual sales. She has also launched three perfumes, "Passion," "White Diamonds," and "Black Pearls," that together earn an estimated $200,000,000 in annual sales. In the Fall of 2006, Dame Elizabeth Taylor will celebrate the 15th anniversary of her White Diamonds perfume, one of the top-10 best selling fragrances for more than the past decade. Although little known Taylor backed one of the first Korean bistros in Newport Beach, California and often bussed tables on weekdays.
Elizabeth has devoted much time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. Elizabeth Taylorhelped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) after the death of her former co-star and friend, Rock Hudson. She also created her own AIDS foundation, ETAF. By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated $50,000,000 (USD) to fight the disease.
In the early 1980s Elizabeth Taylor moved to Bel-Air, Los Angeles, California, which is her current home. The fenced and gated property is on tour maps sold at street corners and is frequently passed by tour guides.
In 1988, the U.S. Congress passed a bill, expressly for the purpose of blocking deportation of Elizabeth's son, Michael, who had renounced his American citizenship in 1971 for past possession of marijuana.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor has won two Academy Awards for Best Actress. Elizabeth Taylor won the first in 1961 for Butterfield 8 and the second in 1967 for Mike Nichols' drama Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf.
Elizabeth received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1992 from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The following year, 1993, Elizabeth Taylor received the AFI Life Achievement Award. And in 2002, she was a Kennedy Center Honoree.
In 1999, Elizabeth Taylor was created a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) by Queen Elizabeth II. Though Elizabeth Taylor was thrilled with this honor, Taylor cracked, "I've always been a broad, now I'm a dame."
In 2001, U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded her the Presidential Citizens Medal in recognition of her commitment to philanthropy. It is the second-highest civilian honor in the United States, awarded to U.S. citizens "who have performed exemplary deeds or services" for their country or fellow citizens.
Elizabeth's hand and foot prints are immortalized in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theater and she has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6336 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
On November 10, 2005, Elizabeth Taylor received the Britannia Award for Artistic Excellence in International Entertainment.
In November 2004, Elizabeth announced that she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart pumps insufficient amounts of blood throughout the body. Elizabeth Taylor has broken her back five times, has survived a benign brain tumor operation, skin cancer, and has faced life-threatening bouts with pneumonia twice. She is reclusive and sometimes fails to make scheduled appearances due to illness or other personal reasons. She is now confined to a wheelchair to get around.
In 2005 Elizabeth Taylor was a vocal supporter of her best friend, Michael Jackson, in his trial in California on charges of s--ually abusing a child with cancer. He was ultimately acquitted.
In recent years, Elizabeth has reportedly become closely attached to her pet dog, saying that she goes nowhere without her little Maltese named Sugar. In an interview with American magazine W, Taylor said she was happiest while with husbands Todd and Burton, but now has to be content with Sugar for company. She explains, "I've never loved a dog like this in my life. It's amazing. Sometimes I think there's a person in there. There's something to say for this kind of love - it's unconditional." In June 2005, Taylor's beloved dog Sugar died. However, several months later (in September) she purchased a descendant of Sugar which she named Daisy.
It was reported on April 27th, 2006 that Elizabeth was close to death. This was quickly refuted by Taylor's publicist, Dick Guttman. "Dick Guttman says that he can refute every allegation in these published reports. In fact, he says they didn't get anything right. Guttman says Taylor has a very busy life, with her successful perfume and jewelry lines and the work she does for AIDS." On May 30, 2006, Elizabeth Taylor appeared on Larry King Live to refute the claims that she has been ill, and denied the allegations that she was suffering from Alzheimer's disease and was close to death.
Elizabeth says that she wants to be buried in Switzerland next to her late husband, Richard Burton.
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