Elizabeth Taylor defined modern celebrity and is considered the last classic Hollywood icon. As such, she continues to captivate and inspire the worlds of fashion, film, and philanthropy today.
A feminist and a trailblazer, Elizabeth Taylor was the first woman to be paid $1 million to appear in a film (“Cleopatra”), was the first celebrity to launch a fragrance brand, and was awarded three Oscars throughout her career. She went on to use her celebrity to stand up and advocate for those affected by the AIDS epidemic, to co-found amFAR and to found The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Elizabeth Taylor reminds us that our lives are shaped by our passion and our courage to channel every ounce of ourselves into all that we do.
From the mid-1980’s until her death, she dedicated her life to HIV and AIDS activism, receiving many awards for her important work including the Légion d’honneur from France, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at the 65th Academy Awards. In 2000, Taylor was named Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times to seven men, had four children, ten grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren, endured serious illnesses, and owned one of the most prestigious private jewelry collections in the world. In 2011, Taylor died in Los Angeles at the age of 79.
Signs her first movie contract with Universal Pictures in 1941 and made her screen debut, at age 9, the following year in There’s One Born Every Minute.
Signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on October 15th, 1942.
LASSIE COME HOME
Appears in Lassie Come Home, her first film with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. On that film she meets Roddy McDowall, with whom she developed a life-long friendship.
Becomes a child star after she plays Velvet Brown in MGM’s National Velvet, opposite Mickey Rooney.
NIBBLES AND ME
Publishes a memoir, at the age of 14, about her adventures with her pet chipmunk Nibbles, entitled Nibbles and Me. The book also includes Taylor’s own illustrations.
LIFE WITH FATHER
Life with Father is released on September 28, 1947.
Meets Montgomery Clift when the studio forces her to accompany him to the premiere of The Heiress. The two become lifelong friends.
Marries her second husband, actor, Michael Wilding.
Cleopatra is released. Taylor later says the film was “surely the most bizarre piece of entertainment ever to be perpetrated.”
ADOPTION PROCESS STARTED
She and Fisher begin the process of adopting a daughter, Maria.
Divorces Eddie Fisher.
Marries Richard Burton.
After Taylor marries Burton, Maria is adopted by Burton and takes his last name.
Stars in The Sandpiper.
WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
Stars in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with husband Richard Burton and Sandy Dennis.
SECOND ACADEMY AWARD
Wins the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. This is her second Oscar win. Dennis wins the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
TAMING OF THE SHREW
Stars opposite Burton in The Taming of the Shrew, The Comidians and Doctor Faustus, and stars with Marlon Brando in Reflections in a Golden Eye.
BOOM & SECRET CEREMONY
Stars opposite Burton in Boom and with Mia Farrow in Secret Ceremony.
ZEE AND CO
Appears with Michael Caine in Zee and Co, and stars opposite Burton in Under Milk Wood and Hammersmith is Out.
FIRST TELEVISION MOVIE
Makes her first television movie, co-starring with Burton in Divorce His – Divorce Hers. Reteams with Butterfield 8 co-star Laurence Harvey for Night Watch. Stars opposite Henry Fonda in Ash Wednesday.
Stars in Identikit which features Andy Warhol in one of the supporting roles.
FIRST DIVORCE WITH BURTON
Divorces Richard Burton (for the first time).
Remarries Richard Burton.
DIVORCES BURTON FOR 2ND TIME
Divorces Richard Burton for the second time.
THE BLUE BIRD
Stars with Jane Fonda and Ava Gardner in The Blue Bird. Appears in the TV movie, Victory at Entebbe with Kirk Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss and Helen Hayes.
MARRIES JOHN WARNER
Marries Republican senator John Warner.
Makes Broadway debut in The Little Foxes. She is nominated for a Tony Award for her role.
DIVORCES JOHN WARNER
Divorces John Warner. She later says about the experience of being married to a politician: “It was one of the most boring experiences I’ve ever had. You are told what to think, wahen to say what you’re supposed to think, and you have no opinions of your own, supposedly … Having been very verbal all my life and independent – even before it was fashionable – I found it sooo difficult to keep my mouth shut.”
Appears with former husband Richard Burton in a stage production of Private Lives.
BETTY FORD CLINIC
Checks herself into the Betty Ford Clinic to overcome her alcohol and painkiller addiction. She is the first actor to do so publicly.
Close friend Rock Hudson dies of AIDS. Taylor helps launch the American Foundaton for AIDS Research (AmFAR).
Plays movie gossip columnist Louella Parson.
RYAN WHITE BILL TESTIMONY
Testifies before Congress with Dr. Mathilde Krim on behalf of the Ryan White bill to plead for a funding increase for emergency AIDS care in areas hardest hit by the epidemic.
Releases her first perfume, Passion
RETURN TO BETTY FORD CLINIC
Checks into Betty Ford for a second time. While there, she meets construction worker Larry Fortensky, himself an alcoholic.
Releases the perfume, White Diamonds.
MARRIES LARRY FORTENSKY
Marries Larry Fortensky at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR AIDS FOUNDATION
Establishes ETAF to raise funds and awareness to fight HIV/AIDS.
Receives Honorary Oscar – Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Receives the AFI Life Achievement Award.
Provides the voice of Maggie Simpson in an episode of “The Simpsons”.
Sherilyn Fenn portrays her in a miniseries about her life, Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story, airs on NBC. Taylor had unsuccessfully tried to block it from being made.
Releases several perfumes: Diamonds and Rubies, Diamonds and Emeralds, Diamonds and Sapphires, and Black Pearls.