By Allison Warenik-Queenan
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was a true Hollywood movie star. Emerging in an era where fame was only granted to those who were exceptionally talented and born naturally beautiful, Elizabeth was in a class of her own, a legend since her childhood.
Born in the suburbs of London, Elizabeth’s parents moved to Los Angeles before the outbreak of WWII. She starred in her first picture at the age of 10 and became a household name at age 12 with her breakthrough performance in National Velvet. Her extraordinary beauty was striking, comprised of dark wavy hair contrasting with milky white skin, blue-violet eyes framed by two rows of eyelashes and a strong brow and a voluptuous body that women today will pay hundred of thousands for.
Elizabeth was known as much for her film work, winning two Academy Awards, one for Butterfield 8 in 1960 and for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (in addition to an honorary Academy Award for her humanitarian work in 1992), as she was for her dramatic personal life, her collection of jewels and her perfume empire.
Married 8 times to 7 different men, 3 of whom fathered her 4 children, Elizabeth was noted to have claimed that she was extremely old-fashioned in the respect that if you were to have a love affair with someone, you married them first. She was first married at age 18 to hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, divorced by 19 and widowed at 26 from her third husband Michael Todd, one of the two men she claimed to be the loves of her life. Elizabeth fell for Todd’s best friend Eddie Fisher in the aftermath of Todd’s death. Eddie left his wife Debbie Reynolds to marry Elizabeth, who converted to Judaism to marry Eddie, causing quite the front page scandal. On the set of Cleopatra, one of the most expensive films ever made, Elizabeth met the second love of her life, Richard Burton, and married him a week after her divorce from Fisher was finalized. After 10 years they divorced and famously married again the following year, only to divorce again one year later. The almost-70-carat diamond necklace Burton gave to Taylor during their relationship is one of the most admired and well-known jewels in the world.
Separately from her professional and personal life, Elizabeth created a fragrance empire, with her scent White Diamonds being the top-selling “celebrity branded” perfume in the world for the past 20 years. Combined with her other notable perfumes, such as Passion, Black Pearls, Diamonds & Sapphires and Violet Eyes, her fragrance sales top $200 million dollars per year. And they will continue to be in production after her death.
Elizabeth is also remember for her extraordinary work for AIDS charities, an important cause to her since the death of her dear friend and contemporary Rock Hudson, who lost his life to the disease. She is also remembered as the best friend of Michael Jackson, both of whom were said to bond over the struggles they had in their life being child stars who were forced to grow up too early.
In the computer age, anyone can be famous. Information and photos can be transmitted and posted anywhere in a split second. An endless supply of movie studios and cable channels allow for the non-talented to appear where once only the talented would be. In a sea of reality TV “stars”, tween idols, internet sex recordings and tacky housewives, Elizabeth Taylor was a true celebrity with a life full of successes, losses and news-worthy dramas. The world sadly lost one of its brightest stars this past Wednesday.