"The problem with people who have no vices is that generally you can be pretty sure they're going to have some pretty annoying virtues." – Elizabeth Taylor 

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Happy birthday Elizabeth Taylor!

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) was a British-American actress who rose to prominence during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Taylor gained international fame not only as an actress, but as a socialite and a glamorous beauty. Taylor is well-remembered for her violet eyes and an extra layer of eyelashes which made her face incredibly distinctive. Her notable films include National Velvet (1944), A Place in the Sun (1951), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and BUtterfield 8 (1960). She is perhaps best remembered for her starring role as Cleopatra in 1963, opposite Richard Burton as Mark Antony. The costars married, and their high-profile romance remains one of the most closely followed love stories in Hollywood.

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When she was just three years old, Taylor gave a dance recital for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Her family then moved from London to Los Angeles and Elizabeth signed a contract with Universal Studios. She was ten years old when she made her screen debut in There's One Born Every Minute (1942). When she was 12, she earned critical acclaim as the star of National Velvet. Unlike many other child stars, Taylor transitioned well into adult roles. At 18, she appeared opposite Spencer Tracy in Father of the Bride (1950).

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 Taylor with Spencer Tracy in a promotional poster for Father of the Bride 

In late 1949, Taylor had begun filming A Place in the Sun, in which she played a sultry socialite who breaks up the relationship between George Eastman and his pregnant girlfriend Alice Tripp. Taylor was only 17 at the start of filming, but the film had a long-lasting effect on her career and her public persona. The director of the film was said to have been acutely aware that the "audience would understand why George Eastman (Clift) would kill for a place in the sun with her."

Taylor-Clift-A_Place_in_the_Sun                                        Taylor and Montgomery Clift in A Place in the Sun

 

Taylor was a popular and lucrative actress, but MGM preferred to restrict her to meaningless roles in various romantic dramas, and she was often cast as little more than an attractive supporting role to a film's male lead. Finally in 1956, Taylor was cast in a substantial role in Giant, opposite Rock Hudson and James Dean. Taylor was then nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress four years in a row, for Raintree County (1957), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), and BUtterfield 8 (1960).

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Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

For BUtterfield 8, which co-starred then husband Eddie Fisher, she won the Academy Award. For her marriage to Fisher, Taylor converted to Judaism and took the Hebrew name Elisheba Rachel. Although they later divorced, Taylor remained deeply committed to Judaism and Israel for the rest of her life.

In 1960, Taylor became the highest paid actress in Hollywood at the time when she signed a $1 million dollar contract to star in Cleopatra opposite Richard Burton. During filming, Taylor had an affair with Burton which was closely followed by tabloids, and ended her marriage to Fisher.

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Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra

Burton and Taylor married in 1964 and they became perhaps the most popular celebrity couple in America. They appeared together in the films The V.I.P.'s (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), Who's Afraid of Viriginia Woolf (1966) and The Taming of the Shrew (1967), among others. Over the next several years, Taylor and Burton would have an on-and-off romance that resulted in a divorce, remarriage, and another divorce, as well as relationships with other people. Of her many marriages, Taylor would later say, "I was taught by my parents that if you fall in love, if you want to have a love affair, you get married. I guess I'm very old-fashioned."

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Taylor and Burton in The Sandpiper

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Taylor and Burton in Taming of the Shrew

Taylor continued to act for many years, but she was considerably less profitable by the 1970s. She appeared in the miniseries North and South, and her last theatrical film was The Flintstones (1994). In 1996, Taylor appeared as herself on The Nanny, during which Fran Dresher identified her using the names of all Taylor's former husbands, "Elizabeth Taylor-Hilton-Wilding-Todd-Fisher-Burton-Burton-Warner-Fortensky".

After her good friend Rock Hudson died in 1985 from HIV/AIDS, Taylor became deeply committed to finding a cure for the disease. In 1991, she launched the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation, and at the time of her death, had helped to raise more than $270 million for AIDS research and support. President Bill Clinton said of her work, "Elizabeth's legacy will live on in many people around the world whose lives will be longer and better because of her work and the ongoing efforts of those she inspired."Elizabeth_Taylor3

After several years of health problems including heart trouble, Taylor died on March 23, 2011 at the age of 79. She was buried in a private Jewish cemetery, and per her request, the funeral began 15 minutes after it was scheduled to start, because she preferred to be fashionably late and "She even wanted to be late for her own funeral."

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Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Thursday, 27 February 2014
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