Elizabeth Taylor Biography: Elizabeth Taylor’s Captivating Biography

Elizabeth Taylor is considered one of the last great movie stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Over her decades-long career, Taylor earned recognition not just for her undeniable beauty and talent onscreen, but also for her philanthropy, business savvy, and trailblazing activism.

Early Life and Career Beginnings

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932 in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London to American parents Sara Sothern and Francis Taylor. Shortly after her birth, the family moved back to the United States and settled in Los Angeles.

Taylor’s mother was a retired stage actress and encouraged her daughter’s early interests in performance. By age 10, Taylor was auditioning and landing small roles in films. Her first credited role was in There’s One Born Every Minute in 1942, followed by Lassie Come Home in 1943.

As Taylor entered her teenage years, her talent and beauty were undeniable. She landed a role alongside Mickey Rooney in National Velvet in 1944 which propelled her status as a professional actress. By 18, Taylor had starred in Father of the Bride and A Place in the Sun, earning critical acclaim.

Marriages and Personal Life

Taylor has been married eight times, earning her press coverage not just for her fame but also her tumultuous personal life. Her husbands were:

  • Conrad “Nicky” Hilton: May 1950 to January 1951
  • Michael Wilding: February 1952 to January 1957
  • Michael Todd: February 1957 to March 1958 (his death)
  • Eddie Fisher: May 1959 to March 1964
  • Richard Burton (1): March 1964 to June 1974
  • Richard Burton (2): October 1975 to August 1976
  • John Warner: December 1976 to November 1982
  • Larry Fortensky: October 1991 to October 1996

Despite many marriages, perhaps her greatest love was co-star Richard Burton. They met and fell in love on the set of Cleopatra while both were married to other people, causing an infamous scandal. This set off a lifetime of makeups and breakups that only ended with Burton’s death.

Activism and Humanitarian Work

Off-screen, Taylor was known for using her platform and resources to advance important social and political causes close to heart heart. In the 1950s and 1960s, she became one of the first celebrities to publicly embrace her Jewish identity and support the creation of the state of Israel when it was still controversial in Hollywood circles.

As Taylor’s close friend Rock Hudson died of AIDS-related complications in 1985, she became an early champion of HIV/AIDS awareness at a time when stigma around the disease was at an all-time high. She founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to fund research and education campaigns when government support was severely lacking.

Overall it is estimated the Taylor raised over $100 million towards AIDS activism over the course of her life. She also became known for her support of Jewish causes, children in need, and animal welfare programs.

Final Years and Death

In her later years of life, Taylor focused less on acting and more on her philanthropy and business ventures which included several perfume and jewelry lines.

After suffering from heart issues and severe back pain, Taylor passed away on March 23, 2011 at age 79. She will be remembered as one of the most talented actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Era, and an activist who used her fame for important social causes rather than chasing stardom.

Roles and Accolades

Over her nearly 70 year career, Taylor took on some of Hollywood’s most iconic and demanding roles across multiple genres from tender coming-of-age stories to historical epics.

Some of her most memorable roles include:

  • National Velvet (1944): Taylor plays a young girl training a difficult horse for England’s Grand National race. The role cemented her early status as a dramatic child star.
  • Father of the Bride (1950): One of Taylor’s early popcorn flicks where she plays bride-to-be Kay Banks opposite Spencer Tracy in the hit family comedy.
  • A Place in the Sun (1951): Taylor transitioned to more mature romantic dramas including this one opposite Montgomery Clift where she plays the society heiress Angela Vickers.
  • Giant (1956): Starring alongside James Dean and Rock Hudson, Taylor enters troubled waters as pie-baking rancher Leslie Lynnton Benedict.
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958): Taylor sizzled onscreen playing Maggie “the Cat” Pollitt and earned her first Academy Award nomination for the steamy Southern gothic drama based on Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize winning play.
  • Cleopatra (1963): No Taylor role was more infamous than that of the Egyptian queen opposite her real-life lover Richard Burton. The lavish historical epic nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox but retains cult status thanks to Taylor’s haughty performance in this, the most expensive film made at the time.
  • Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966): Taylor took on another iconic bastion of American theater, earning a second Oscar and cementing her reputation as one of the greatest actresses in film for her vitriolic performance opposite Burton in the adaptation of the famed Edward Albee play.

In all, Taylor was nominated for five Academy Awards over the years, winning Best Actress trophies for both Butterfield 8 in 1960 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966.

Some of Taylor’s other accolades recognizing both her on and off-screen impact include:

  • Named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II
  • Won a Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Academy Award in 1993 for her AIDS activism
  • Won a Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997
  • Won a American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993
  • Named multiple Golden Globe and BAFTA awards and honors over her career

Later Business and Charity Ventures

While acting propelled Taylor to fame, she spent much of her later years focused on lucrative business ventures leveraging her celebrity and ongoing philanthropic work.

Some of Taylor’s major non-acting roles over the years have included:

Elizabeth Taylor Jewelry and White Diamonds Perfume

Taylor had a lifelong love of jewelry starting as a young girl when her mother allowed her to wear a special ring to help calm her anxiety. This fixation grew when Richard Burton famously showered her with extravagant diamond and pearl pieces over the years.

In 1989, Taylor began a partnership with fragrance company Elizabeth Arden to launch a perfume named “White Diamonds” inspired by her favorite accessory. White Diamonds soon became the highest selling celebrity fragrance of all time, per Guinness Book of World Records. Building on this success, Taylor launched a fine jewelry line called House of Taylor Jewelry which officially opened in Beverly Hills in 1995.

AIDS Activism

As mentioned, much of Taylor’s later years centered around raising money and awareness during the 1980s and 1990s HIV/AIDS epidemic. She founded organizations like amfAR and the Elizabeth Taylor Trust to fund programs around education, prevention, and care for those living with HIV/AIDS.

Taylor famously helped organize the first major televised AIDS fundraiser with ‘An All-Star Tribute: A Comedy Salute to Elizabeth Taylor’ in 1986 which drummed up significant funds.

Other Causes and Passions

Outside of jewelry and the fight against AIDS, Taylor lent her famous name and some personal funds to other causes she was passionate about. This included advocacy for the arts, children in need, animals via her work with groups like PETA, and Jewish causes.

Some accounts estimate Taylor raised nearly $270 million for various charities over the course of her life which is a remarkable legacy beyond her film career.


In a career spanning over 70 years, Elizabeth Taylor embodied both glamour and grit through memorable film roles and off-screen advocacy.

As a child star she captured hearts in sentimental films like National Velvet. Her teenage beauty in the 1950s sparked endless crushes even as she took on more serious fare. Epic love affairs that fueled gossip columns coexisted alongside serious acting roles over the ensuing decades. And as middle age set in, Taylor eschewed vanity to take on the challenging role of Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which finally earned her overdue Academy recognition.

While her many marriages, health issues, and addiction battles occasionally made splashy headlines, she used her platform to champion important social causes from HIV/AIDS advocacy to humanitarianism. This multi-faceted legacy – from silver screen icon to philanthropic powerhouse – makes Taylor’s life simply unforgettable.

In the often fickle world of fame, Taylor achieved that rare position as celebrity royalty. Her kindness, strength of character, contributions to the arts, and advocacy survive her even as new stars crop up each year. Simply said, Hollywood may never see the likes of her again.

I hope this gives you a sense of how I would have wrapped up the key themes and ideas within a concluding paragraph for this article. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!

Frequently Asked Questions About Elizabeth Taylor’s Life

Elizabeth Taylor lived an extraordinary life both on and off screen. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about her biography:

How many Oscars did Elizabeth Taylor win?

In her 50+ year acting career, Elizabeth Taylor won two Best Actress Academy Awards. She won for her roles in Butterfield 8 in 1960 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966.

What made Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes appear violet blue?

Taylor was famed for her rare violet-blue eye color which contrasted beautifully with her dark hair in technicolor films. The reason for her eye color comes down to genetics and a condition called miosis where the pupil and iris of the eye appear to fuse together making the color seem more vivid.

What was Elizabeth Taylor’s most famous role?

While Taylor had dozens of popular roles, her most iconic is likely that of Egyptian queen Cleopatra in the 1963 film of the same name. The lavish historical drama cemented her fame and beauty in the public imagination for generations.

How many husbands did Elizabeth Taylor have?

Taylor was married eight times to seven different husbands over the years. Most famously she wed and divorced actor Richard Burton twice in a fiery relationship that transfixed fans and press.