Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor passed away of congestive heart failure this morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Born in 1932, Taylor was considered one of the great actresses of Hollywood’s golden age, while her remarkable beauty and tumultuous personal life (she was married 8 times) served as a predecessor to modern notions of celebrity.
Taylor’s acting career began at age 9, when she starred in Harold Young’s 1942 film “There’s One Born Every Minute,” which led to work as an adolescent star in films such as “Lassie Come Home,” “National Velvet,” “Life With Father” and “Little Women.”
By the 1950s, she came to considerable prominence as an adult actress most notably with “Father of the Bride” (1950), “A Place in The Sun” (1951), “Giant” (1956), “Raintree County (1957), “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” (1958) and “Suddenly, Last Summer” (1959). She finally won her first Academy Award in 1961 for her work in “Butterfield 8,” which came after four consecutive nominations.
Taylor is perhaps best known for two roles in the following decade: 1963’s “Cleopatra,” which remains the most expensive movie ever made when adjusted for inflation (Taylor herself made $7 million – equivalent to $47 million today), saw Taylor suffer through considerable illness during the intensive and delayed shoot (it was also where she met two-time husband Richard Burton); and 1967’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,” which would earn Taylor her second Academy Award for her iconic portrayal of Martha.
The actress would continue to work through the next few decades, in films such as “Ash Wednesday” (1973), “The Blue Bird” (1976, opposite Jane Fonda), the TV film “Malice in Wonderland” (1985, opposite Jane Alecander), and “The Flintstones” (1994, which would be her last theatrical role).
Taylor was also a great philanthropist, most notably in the last few decades of her life. She was one of the first public figures to speak up about HIV/AIDS after her frequent co-star Rock Hudson died of the illness, helping start the American Foundation for AIDS Research and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. By the time of her death, she had helped raise over $50 million to fight HIV/AIDS.