Elizabeth Taylor

  • Born: February 27, 1932
  • Died: March 23, 2011
  • Location: Los Angeles, California

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This is a November 1956 photo of the actress Elizabeth Taylor.

Screen legend dies at 79

Liz Taylor buried in small ceremony at LA cemetery

SANDY COHEN, The Associated Press

GLENDALE, Calif. (AP) — Elizabeth Taylor's funeral started late — just the way the screen legend wanted it.

Her family held a brief private service Thursday at a Southern California cemetery famous for being the final resting place of Hollywood celebrities, including her good friend Michael Jackson.

But the funeral began 15 minutes after its announced start time in observance of the actress' parting wish, according to her publicist, Sally Morrison.

She left instructions asking for the tardy start and had requested that someone announce, "She even wanted to be late for her own funeral," Morrison said.

Taylor died early Wednesday at age 79 of congestive heart failure while surrounded by her four children at Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for about six weeks.

Taylor, who was infamously married eight times to seven husbands, converted to Judaism before her 1959 wedding to Eddie Fisher. Jewish customs call for a burial within 48 hours of death.

Inside the sprawling Forest Lawn Cemetery, barricades blocked access to the funeral, where about four dozen family members mourned the actress during a service that lasted about an hour, said Glendale police spokesman Tom Lorenz. Five black stretch limousines transported Taylor's family to and from the funeral, but no procession was held.

The service began with poetry readings by actor Colin Farrell and Taylor's family members and included a trumpet performance of Amazing Grace by her grandson, Morrison said.

The casket was draped in gardenias, violets, and lilies of the valley before its interment in the cemetery's Great Mausoleum beneath a marble sculpture of an angel inspired by the work of Italian artist Michelangelo.

In addition to Jackson, the cemetery is the final resting place for such stars as Clark Gable, Jean Harlow, W.C. Fields, Red Skelton, Gracie Allen, Walt Disney and Nat King Cole.

Taylor, the star of such films as "BUtterfield 8," "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Cleopatra," won three Academy Awards, including a special one for her humanitarian work. She was an ardent and early supporter of AIDS research, when HIV was new to the industry and beyond.

"I admired Elizabeth Taylor enormously and feel heartsick losing her, especially with all of her charitable works," said Ann Berry, a fan and character actress who lives nearby and visited the cemetery with a friend to pay their respects to the star.

Several television news crews documented the service from across the street while news helicopters swirled overhead and students got out of class at the nearby Cerritos Elementary School.

Taylor underwent at least 20 major operations during her life and nearly died from a bout with pneumonia in 1990. In 1994 and 1995, she had both hip joints replaced, and in February 1997, she underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. In 1983, she acknowledged a 35-year addiction to sleeping pills and pain killers, and was treated for alcohol and drug abuse at the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Survivors include Taylor's daughters Maria Burton-Carson and Liza Todd-Tivey, sons Christopher and Michael Wilding, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Taylor's publicist said any details of a memorial service would likely be announced at a later date.
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Taylor lived glorious spectacle on-screen and off

DAVID GERMAIN, The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Elizabeth Taylor went from dazzling beauty in her glory years to self-described ruin in old age.

She spent almost her entire life in the public eye, from tiny dancer performing at age 3 before the future queen of England, to child screen star to scandalous home-wrecker to three-time Academy Award winner for both acting and humanitarian work.

A diva, she made a spectacle of her private life — eight marriages, ravenous appetites for drugs, booze and food, ill health that sparked headlines constantly proclaiming her at death's door. All of it often overshadowed the fireworks she created on screen.

Yet for all her infamy and indulgences, Taylor died Wednesday a beloved idol, a woman who somehow held onto her status as one of old Hollywood's last larger-than-life legends, adored even as she waned to a tabloid figure.

Taylor, 79, died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for about six weeks.

"We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts," her son, Michael Wilding, said in a prepared statement.

A star from her teen years in such films as "National Velvet," ''Little Women" and "Father of the Bride," Taylor won best-actress Oscars as a high-end hooker in 1960s "BUtterfield 8" and an alcoholic shrew in a savage marriage in 1966's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

In the latter, she starred with husband Richard Burton, their on-screen emotional tempest considered a glimpse of their stormy real lives (they divorced in 1974, remarried in 1975 and divorced again a year later).

For all the ferocity of her screen roles and the turmoil of her life, Taylor was remembered for her gentler, life-affirming side.

"The shock of Elizabeth was not only her beauty," said "Virginia Woolf" director Mike Nichols. "It was her generosity, her giant laugh, her vitality, whether tackling a complex scene on film or where we would all have dinner until dawn."

"She is singular and indelible on film and in our hearts," he said.

Though Taylor continued acting in film, television and theater in the 1980s and 1990s, she called it quits on the big screen with 1994's "The Flintstones," playing caveman Fred's nagging mother-in-law.

Taylor bid farewell to the small screen with 2001's "These Old Broads," a geriatric diva romp co-starring Shirley MacLaine, Joan Collins and one-time romantic rival Debbie Reynolds, whose husband, Eddie Fisher, left her for Taylor in the late 1950s.

She was remembered for her friendship, standing by Michael Jackson, Rock Hudson and other troubled friends.

"I don't know what was more impressive, her magnitude as a star or her magnitude as a friend," MacLaine said. "Her talent for friendship was unmatched. I will miss her for the rest of my life and beyond."

Collins called Taylor one of the last of the true Hollywood icons. "There will never be another star who will come close to her luminosity and generosity, particularly in her fight against AIDS," she said.

AIDS activism had become Taylor's real work long before she gave up acting. Her passion in raising money and AIDS awareness brought her an honorary Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1993.

"Acting is, to me now, artificial," Taylor told The Associated Press at the 2005 dedication of a UCLA AIDS research center. "Seeing people suffer is real. It couldn't be more real. Some people don't like to look at it in the face because it's painful.

"But if nobody does, then nothing gets done," she said.

One of the groups that benefited, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, praised Taylor for being "among the first to speak out on behalf of people living with HIV when others reacted with fear and often outright hostility."

Taylor's work "improved and extended millions of lives and will enrich countless more for generations to come," the group said.

Taylor received the Legion of Honor, France's most prestigious award, in 1987 for AIDS efforts. In 2000, Queen Elizabeth II made Taylor a dame — the female equivalent of a knight — for her services to charity and the entertainment industry.

Taylor herself, however, suffered through the decades.

She fell from a horse while shooting 1944's "National Velvet," causing a back injury that plagued her for the rest of her life. Her third husband, producer Michael Todd, died in a plane crash after only a year of marriage.

Taylor had life-threatening bouts with pneumonia, a brain tumor and congestive heart failure in her 60s and 70s, and from drug and alcohol abuse, including a 35-year addiction to sleeping pills and painkillers, which prompted her to check in to the Betty Ford Center.

She had at least 20 major operations, including replacements of both hip joints and surgery to remove the benign brain tumor.

Taylor also dealt with obesity, packing on as much as 60 pounds and writing, "It's a wonder I didn't explode" in her 1988 book "Elizabeth Takes Off," about how she gained the weight and then shed it.

"Eating became one of the most pleasant activities I could find to fill the lonely hours and I ate and drank with abandon," she said.

After a lifetime of ailments and self-abuse, Taylor said in a 2004 interview with W magazine that "my body's a real mess. ... Just completely convex and concave."

Her trials made her a butt of jokes, but even when people made fun, she preserved a hint of the divine aura of her youth.

When cartoonist Garry Trudeau mocked Taylor and then-husband John Warner, newly installed as a U.S. senator, in a 1979 "Doonesbury" comic strip, he memorably described her as a "tad overweight, but with violet eyes to die for."

Her eyes were only part of the charms that took her to the top in Hollywood and kept her there for decades.

Born in London on Feb. 27, 1932, to art dealer Francis Taylor and American stage actress Sara Sothern, Taylor seemed born for the spotlight. A seasoned ballerina at age 3, Taylor danced before Princess Elizabeth, the future queen.

Her family moved to Hollywood at the outset of World War II. She then made her screen debut with a tiny part in the 1942 comedy "There's One Born Every Minute." Her big break came a year later in "Lassie Come Home."

Taylor's screen test for the film won her both the part and a long-term contract. She grew up quickly after that.

"I have the emotions of a child in the body of a woman," she once said. "I was rushed into womanhood for the movies. It caused me long moments of unhappiness and doubt."

Steady work and high-profile romances followed into her late teens, with early lovers including athletes Ralph Kiner and Glenn Davis and hotel heir Conrad Hilton Jr., whom she married at age 18 and divorced just months later.

Taylor showed her first real grown-up glimmers as an actress with 1951's "A Place in the Sun," adapted from Theodore Dreiser's novel "An American Tragedy."

After some old-fashioned costume pageants ("Ivanhoe," ''Beau Brummell") and romances ("The Last Time I Saw Paris," ''The Girl Who Had Everything"), Taylor set the screen ablaze opposite Rock Hudson and James Dean in the 1956 epic "Giant."

She was primed to become one of the era's most-acclaimed actresses.

Taylor got four straight Oscar nominations from 1957-1960, for "Raintree County," the back-to-back Tennessee Williams adaptations "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Suddenly, Last Summer," then her win for "BUtterfield 8," a film she later disparaged.

Professional success was tempered by the headlines that came with Taylor's personal life. She was wed again at 19, to British actor Michael Wilding, a marriage that lasted four years and produced two sons.

She married producer Todd, with whom she had a daughter. Fisher was best man at Todd's wedding to Taylor. A year after Todd's death in the plane crash, Fisher left Reynolds to marry Taylor, who converted to Judaism before the wedding.

Then came Burton. They met while filming "Cleopatra," a colossally expensive production that nearly ruined 20th Century Fox.

The movie was derided by critics as a bloated bore, but the ardor between Taylor's Cleopatra and Burton's Mark Antony came to life for real as the co-stars began one of Hollywood's great and stormy love affairs.

The romance created such a sensation that the Vatican denounced their behavior as the "caprices of adult children."

After Taylor divorced Fisher and Burton divorced his wife, they were married in 1964. Along with a daughter, the fiery relationship produced a surprisingly durable working partnership.

Over a decade, Taylor and Burton co-starred in "The VIPs," ''The Sandpiper," ''The Taming of the Shrew," ''The Comedians," ''Dr. Faustus," ''Boom!", "Under Milk Wood," and "Hammersmith is Out."

They also starred in a 1973 TV movie, "Divorce His, Divorce Hers," prophetically about the breakup of a marriage. Their own first marriage ended a year later.

But it was "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", released in 1966 when their marriage still was fairly fresh, that stands as the dramatic peak for Taylor and Burton and an eerie window into an explosive romance.

Based on Edward Albee's play, the film stars Burton and Taylor as George and Martha, who nearly destroy each other over the course of a drunken evening of vicious role-playing and mind games with another couple.

"We fight a great deal," Burton once said of his real life with Taylor, "and we watch the people around us who don't quite know how to behave during these storms. We don't fight when we are alone."

Taylor was also known for real-life sauciness.

"She had a sense of humor that was so bawdy, even I was saying, 'Really? That came out of your mouth?'" Whoopi Goldberg said on ABC's "The View," recalling how Taylor gave her advice about her own Hollywood career.

"She was just a magnificent woman. She was a great broad and a good friend," Goldberg said.

After their second marriage ended, Taylor and Burton reunited professionally for a touring production of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" in 1982. Burton died two years later. Taylor married Warner in 1976, and they divorced in 1982.

Two of Taylor's early marriages, to Wilding and Todd, were to men 20 years older than she was. For her final marriage in 1991, Taylor wed a man 20 years younger, Larry Fortensky, a trucker and construction worker she met at the Betty Ford Center.

That wedding was a media circus at the ranch of her friend, Michael Jackson. It included the din of helicopter blades, a journalist who parachuted to a spot near the couple and a gossip columnist as official scribe.

By 1995, Taylor and Fortensky had separated. She divorced for the last time in 1997.

"I was taught by my parents that if you fall in love, if you want to have a love affair, you get married," Taylor once said. "I guess I'm very old-fashioned."

Taylor's survivors include daughters Maria Burton-Carson and Liza Todd-Tivey, sons Christopher and Michael Wilding, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A private family funeral is planned later this week.

Not long before Burton's death, as her Hollywood career was winding down and her first stint in rehab lay before her, Taylor, turning 50 at the time, looked back on her life self-critically but unapologetically.

"I don't entirely approve of some of the things I have done, or am, or have been," she said. "But I'm me. God knows, I'm me."

Associated Press writers Bob Thomas, and Hillel Italie and David Bauder in New York contributed to this report.
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Legendary actress dies at 79

DAVID GERMAIN, The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Elizabeth Taylor, the violet-eyed film goddess whose sultry screen persona, stormy personal life and enduring fame and glamour made her one of the last of the classic movie stars and a template for the modern celebrity, died Wednesday at age 79.

She was surrounded by her four children when she died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for about six weeks, said publicist Sally Morrison.

"My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love," her son, Michael Wilding, said in a statement.

"We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts."

"We have just lost a Hollywood giant," said Elton John, a longtime friend of Taylor. "More importantly, we have lost an incredible human being."

Taylor was the most blessed and cursed of actresses, the toughest and the most vulnerable. She had extraordinary grace, wealth and voluptuous beauty, and won three Academy Awards, including a special one for her humanitarian work.

One of those Oscars came for a searing performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" She played an alcoholic shrew in an emotionally sadomasochistic marriage opposite real-life husband Richard Burton.

For all the ferocity of her screen roles and the turmoil of her life, Taylor was remembered by "Virginia Woolf" director Mike Nichols for her gentler, life-affirming side.

"The shock of Elizabeth was not only her beauty. It was her generosity. Her giant laugh. Her vitality, whether tackling a complex scene on film or where we would all have dinner until dawn," Nichols said in a statement. "She is singular and indelible on film and in our hearts."

Taylor was the most loyal of friends and a defender of gays in Hollywood when AIDS was new to the industry and beyond. But she was afflicted by ill health, failed romances (eight marriages, seven husbands) and personal tragedy.

"I think I'm becoming fatalistic," she said in 1989. "Too much has happened in my life for me not to be fatalistic."

Her more than 50 movies included unforgettable portraits of innocence and of decadence, from the children's classic "National Velvet" and the sentimental family comedy "Father of the Bride" to Oscar-winning transgressions in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and "Butterfield 8." The historical epic "Cleopatra" is among Hollywood's greatest on-screen fiascos and a landmark of off-screen monkey business, the meeting ground of Taylor and Burton, the "Brangelina" of their day.

She played enough bawdy women on film for critic Pauline Kael to deem her "Chaucerian Beverly Hills."

That sauciness was part of her real life, too.

"She had a sense of humor that was so bawdy, even I was saying, 'really? That came out of your mouth?'" Whoopi Goldberg said on ABC's "The View," recalling how Taylor gave her advice about her own Hollywood career. "She was just a magnificent woman. She was a great broad and a good friend."

But her defining role, one that lasted past her moviemaking days, was "Elizabeth Taylor," ever marrying and divorcing, in and out of hospitals, gaining and losing weight, standing by Michael Jackson, Rock Hudson and other troubled friends, acquiring a jewelry collection that seemed to rival Tiffany's.

She was a child star who grew up and aged before an adoring, appalled and fascinated public. She arrived in Hollywood when the studio system tightly controlled an actor's life and image, had more marriages than any publicist could explain away and carried on until she no longer required explanation. She was the industry's great survivor, and among the first to reach that special category of celebrity — famous for being famous, for whom her work was inseparable from the gossip around it.

The London-born actress was a star at age 12, a bride and a divorcee at 18, a superstar at 19 and a widow at 26. She was a screen sweetheart and martyr later reviled for stealing Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds, then for dumping Fisher to bed Burton, a relationship of epic passion and turbulence, lasting through two marriages and countless attempted reconciliations.

She was also forgiven. Reynolds would acknowledge voting for Taylor when she was nominated for "Butterfield 8" and decades later co-starred with her old rival in "These Old Broads," co-written by Carrie Fisher, the daughter of Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

Taylor's ailments wore down the grudges. She underwent at least 20 major operations and she nearly died from a bout with pneumonia in 1990. In 1994 and 1995, she had both hip joints replaced, and in February 1997, she underwent surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. In 1983, she acknowledged a 35-year addiction to sleeping pills and pain killers. Taylor was treated for alcohol and drug abuse problems at the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

Her troubles bonded her to her peers and the public, and deepened her compassion. Her advocacy for AIDS research and for other causes earned her a special Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, in 1993.

As she accepted it, to a long ovation, she declared, "I call upon you to draw from the depths of your being — to prove that we are a human race, to prove that our love outweighs our need to hate, that our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame."

The American Foundation for AIDS Research, for which Taylor was a longtime advocate, noted in a statement that she was "among the first to speak out on behalf of people living with HIV when others reacted with fear and often outright hostility."

"She leaves a monumental legacy that has improved and extended millions of lives and will enrich countless more for generations to come," the group said.

The dark-haired Taylor made an unforgettable impression in Hollywood with "National Velvet," the 1945 film in which the 12-year-old belle rode a steeplechase horse to victory in the Grand National.

Critic James Agee wrote of her: "Ever since I first saw the child ... I have been choked with the peculiar sort of adoration I might have felt if we were in the same grade of primary school."

"National Velvet," her fifth film, also marked the beginning of Taylor's long string of health issues. During production, she fell off a horse. The resulting back injury continued to haunt her.

Taylor matured into a ravishing beauty in "Father of the Bride," in 1950, and into a respected performer and femme fatale the following year in "A Place in the Sun," based on the Theodore Dreiser novel "An American Tragedy." The movie co-starred her close friend Montgomery Clift as the ambitious young man who drowns his working-class girlfriend to be with the socialite Taylor. In real life, too, men all but committed murder in pursuit of her.

Through the rest of the 1950s and into the 1960s, she and Marilyn Monroe were Hollywood's great sex symbols, both striving for appreciation beyond their physical beauty, both caught up in personal dramas filmmakers could only wish they had imagined. That Taylor lasted, and Monroe died young, was a matter of luck and strength; Taylor lived as she pleased and allowed no one to define her but herself.

"I don't entirely approve of some of the things I have done, or am, or have been. But I'm me. God knows, I'm me," Taylor said around the time she turned 50.

She had a remarkable and exhausting personal and professional life. Her marriage to Michael Todd ended tragically when the producer died in a plane crash in 1958. She took up with Fisher, married him, then left him for Burton. Meanwhile, she received several Academy Award nominations and two Oscars.

She was a box-office star cast in numerous "prestige" films, from "Raintree County" with Clift to "Giant," an epic co-starring her friends Hudson and James Dean. Nominations came from a pair of movies adapted from work by Tennessee Williams: "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Suddenly, Last Summer." In "Butterfield 8," released in 1960, she starred with Fisher as a doomed girl-about-town. Taylor never cared much for the film, but her performance at the Oscars wowed the world.

Sympathy for Taylor's widowhood had turned to scorn when she took up with Fisher, who had supposedly been consoling her over the death of Todd. But before the 1961 ceremony, she was hospitalized from a nearly fatal bout with pneumonia and Taylor underwent a tracheotomy. The scar was bandaged when she appeared at the Oscars to accept her best actress trophy for "Butterfield 8."

To a standing ovation, she hobbled to the stage. "I don't really know how to express my great gratitude," she said in an emotional speech. "I guess I will just have to thank you with all my heart." It was one of the most dramatic moments in Academy Awards history.

"Hell, I even voted for her," Reynolds later said.

Greater drama awaited: "Cleopatra." Taylor met Burton while playing the title role in the 1963 epic, in which the brooding, womanizing Welsh actor co-starred as Mark Antony. Their chemistry was not immediate. Taylor found him boorish; Burton mocked her physique. But the love scenes on film continued away from the set and a scandal for the ages was born. Headlines shouted and screamed. Paparazzi, then an emerging breed, snapped and swooned. Their romance created such a sensation that the Vatican denounced the happenings as the "caprices of adult children."

The film so exceeded its budget that the producers lost money even though "Cleopatra" was a box-office hit and won four Academy awards. (With its $44 million budget adjusted for inflation, "Cleopatra" remains the most expensive movie ever made.) Taylor's salary per film topped $1 million. "Liz and Dick" became the ultimate jet set couple, on a first name basis with millions who had never met them.

They were a prolific acting team, even if most of the movies aged no better than their marriages: "The VIPs" (1963), "The Sandpiper" (1965), "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1966), "The Taming of the Shrew" (1967), "The Comedians" (1967), "Dr. Faustus" (1967), "Boom!" (1968), "Under Milk Wood" (1971) and "Hammersmith Is Out" (1972).

Art most effectively imitated life in the adaptation of Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" — in which Taylor and Burton played mates who fought viciously and drank heavily. She took the best actress Oscar for her performance as the venomous Martha in "Virginia Woolf" and again stole the awards show, this time by not showing up at the ceremony. She refused to thank the academy upon learning of her victory and chastised voters for not honoring Burton.

Taylor and Burton divorced in 1974, married again in 1975 and divorced again in 1976.

"We fight a great deal," Burton once said, "and we watch the people around us who don't quite know how to behave during these storms. We don't fight when we are alone."

In 1982, Taylor and Burton appeared in a touring production of the Noel Coward play "Private Lives," in which they starred as a divorced couple who meet on their respective honeymoons. They remained close at the time of Burton's death, in 1984.

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born in London on Feb. 27, 1932, the daughter of Francis Taylor, an art dealer, and the former Sara Sothern, an American stage actress. At age 3, with extensive ballet training already behind her, Taylor danced for British princesses Elizabeth (the future queen) and Margaret Rose at London's Hippodrome. At age 4, she was given a wild field horse that she learned to ride expertly.

At the onset of World War II, the Taylors came to the United States. Francis Taylor opened a gallery in Beverly Hills and, in 1942, his daughter made her screen debut with a bit part in the comedy "There's One Born Every Minute."

Her big break came soon thereafter. While serving as an air-raid warden with MGM producer Sam Marx, Taylor's father learned that the studio was struggling to find an English girl to play opposite Roddy McDowall in "Lassie Come Home." Taylor's screen test for the film won her both the part and a long-term contract. She grew up quickly after that.

Still in school at 16, she would dash from the classroom to the movie set where she played passionate love scenes with Robert Taylor in "Conspirator."

"I have the emotions of a child in the body of a woman," she once said. "I was rushed into womanhood for the movies. It caused me long moments of unhappiness and doubt."

Soon after her screen presence was established, she began a series of very public romances. Early loves included socialite Bill Pawley, home run slugger Ralph Kiner and football star Glenn Davis.

Then, a roll call of husbands:

— She married Conrad Hilton Jr., son of the hotel magnate, in May 1950 at age 18. The marriage ended in divorce that December.

— When she married British actor Michael Wilding in February 1952, he was 39 to her 19. They had two sons, Michael Jr. and Christopher Edward. That marriage lasted 4 years.

— She married cigar-chomping movie producer Michael Todd, also 20 years her senior, in 1957. They had a daughter, Elizabeth Francis. Todd was killed in a plane crash in 1958.

— The best man at the Taylor-Todd wedding was Fisher. He left his wife Debbie Reynolds to marry Taylor in 1959. She converted to Judaism before the wedding.

— Taylor and Fisher moved to London, where she was making "Cleopatra." She met Burton, who also was married. That union produced her fourth child, Maria.

— After her second marriage to Burton ended, she married John Warner, a former secretary of the Navy, in December 1976. Warner was elected a U.S. senator from Virginia in 1978. They divorced in 1982.

— In October 1991, she married Larry Fortensky, a truck driver and construction worker she met while both were undergoing treatment at the Betty Ford Center in 1988. He was 20 years her junior. The wedding, held at the ranch of Michael Jackson, was a media circus that included the din of helicopter blades, a journalist who parachuted to a spot near the couple and a gossip columnist as official scribe.

But in August 1995, she and Fortensky announced a trial separation; she filed for divorce six months later and the split became final in 1997.

"I was taught by my parents that if you fall in love, if you want to have a love affair, you get married," she once remarked. "I guess I'm very old-fashioned."

Her philanthropic interests included assistance for the Israeli War Victims Fund and the Variety Clubs International.

She received the Legion of Honor, France's most prestigious award, in 1987, for her efforts to support AIDS research. In May 2000, Queen Elizabeth II made Taylor a dame — the female equivalent of a knight — for her services to the entertainment industry and to charity.

In 1993, she won a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute; in 1999, an institute survey of screen legends ranked her No. 7 among actresses.

During much of her later career, Taylor's waistline, various diets, diet books and tangled romances were the butt of jokes by Joan Rivers and others. John Belushi mocked her on "Saturday Night Live," dressing up in drag and choking on a piece of chicken.

"It's a wonder I didn't explode," Taylor wrote of her 60-pound weight gain — and successful loss — in the 1988 book "Elizabeth Takes Off on Self-Esteem and Self-Image."

She was an iconic star, but her screen roles became increasingly rare in the 1980s and beyond. She appeared in several television movies, including "Poker Alice" and "Sweet Bird of Youth," and entered the Stone Age as Pearl Slaghoople in the movie version of "The Flintstones." She had a brief role on the popular soap opera "General Hospital."

Taylor was the subject of numerous unauthorized biographies and herself worked on a handful of books, including "Elizabeth Taylor: An Informal Memoir" and "Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair With Jewelry." In tune with the media to the end, she kept in touch through her Twitter account.

"I like the connection with fans and people who have been supportive of me," Taylor told Kim Kardashian in a 2011 interview for Harper's Bazaar. "And I love the idea of real feedback and a two-way street, which is very, very modern. But sometimes I think we know too much about our idols and that spoils the dream."

Survivors include her daughters Maria Burton-Carson and Liza Todd-Tivey, sons Christopher and Michael Wilding, 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A private family funeral is planned later this week.

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Associated Press Writers Bob Thomas and David Bauder contributed to this report.

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Elizabeth Taylor's film, television and theater credits:

Films

"There's One Born Every Minute," 1942

"Lassie Come Home," 1943

"Jane Eyre," 1944

"The White Cliffs of Dover," 1944

"National Velvet," 1944

"Courage of Lassie," 1946

"Cynthia," 1947

"Life With Father," 1947

"A Date With Judy," 1948

"Julia Misbehaves," 1948

"Little Women," 1949

"Conspirator," 1950

"The Big Hangover," 1950

"Father of the Bride," 1950

"Father's Little Dividend," 1951

"Quo Vadis," cameo, 1951

"A Place in the Sun," 1951

"Callaway Went Thataway," cameo, 1951

"Love Is Better Than Ever," 1952

"Ivanhoe," 1952

"The Girl Who Had Everything," 1953

"Rhapsody," 1954

"Elephant Walk," 1954

"Beau Brummell," 1954

"The Last Time I Saw Paris," 1954

"Giant," 1956

"Raintree County," 1957

"Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," 1958

"Suddenly, Last Summer," 1959

"Scent of Mystery," unbilled cameo, 1960

"Butterfield 8," 1960

"Cleopatra," 1963

"The VIPs," 1963

"The Sandpiper," 1965

"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" 1966

"The Taming of the Shrew," 1967

"The Comedians," 1967

"Reflections in a Golden Eye," 1967

"Doctor Faustus," 1967

"Boom!" 1968

"Secret Ceremony," 1968

"The Only Game in Town," 1970

"Under Milk Wood," 1971

"X, Y and Z," 1972

"Hammersmith Is Out," 1972

"Night Watch," 1973

"Ash Wednesday," 1973

"The Driver's Seat," 1973

"That's Entertainment!" narrator, 1974

"The Blue Bird," 1976

"A Little Night Music," 1977

"Winter Kills," 1979

"The Mirror Crack'd," 1980

"Genocide," narrator, 1982

"Between Friends," 1983

"Young Toscanini," 1988

"The Flintstones," 1994

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Theater:

"The Little Foxes," 1981

"Private Lives," 1983

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Television:

"Divorce His, Divorce Hers," 1973

"Victory at Entebbe," 1976

"Return Engagement," 1978

"General Hospital," 1981

"Hotel," 1984

"Malice in Wonderland," 1985

"North and South," 1985

"There Must Be a Pony," 1986

"Poker Alice," 1987

"Sweet Bird of Youth," 1989