BIOGRAPHY

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.

1932

BIRTH
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor born in London to American parents, Sara Viola Warmbrodt (Sara Sothern) and Francis Lenn Taylor on February 27th, 1932.

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1942

SCREEN DEBUT
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.

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FIRST FILMS
Appears in Jane Eyre and The White Cliffs of Dover before finding true fame in National Velvet.

METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER
Signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on October 15th, 1942.

1943

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.

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1944

NATIONAL VELVET
Becomes a child star after she plays Velvet Brown in MGM’s National Velvet, opposite Mickey Rooney.

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1946

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.

1947

LIFE MAGAZINE COVER
Appears on the cover of Life magazine on July 14, 1947.

Elizabeth Taylor Life Magazine Cover 1947

LIFE WITH FATHER
Life with Father is released on September 28, 1947.

1948

JULIA MISBEHAVES
Julia Misbehaves is released.

A DATE WITH JUDY
A Date with Judy is released.

1949

MONTGOMERY CLIFT
Meets Montgomery Clift when the studio forces her to accompany him to the premiere of The Heiress. The two become lifelong friends.

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LITTLE WOMEN
Little Women is released.

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1950

HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA
Receives her high school diploma on January 16th from University High School in Los Angeles after attending school on the MGM lot.

FATHER OF THE BRIDE
Appears in Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy and The Big Hangover.

MARRIAGE
At the age of 18, marries hotel heir Conrad “Nicky” Hilton Jr.

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1951

DIVORCE
Divorces Nicky Hilton.

FATHER’S LITTLE DIVIDEND
Stars in Father’s Little Dividend.

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A PLACE IN THE SUN
Stars in A Place in the Sun with Montgomery Clift.

 

 

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1952

IVANHOE
Stars in Ivanhoe.

LOVE IS BETTER THAN EVER
Stars in Love is Better Than Ever.

MARRIAGE
Marries her second husband, actor, Michael Wilding.

1953

MICHAEL IS BORN
Gives birth to first child, son Michael Howard Wilding.

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THE GIRL WHO HAD EVERYTHING
Stars in The Girl Who Had Everything.

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1954

THE LAST TIME I SAW PARIS
Stars in The Last Time I Saw Paris.

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1955

CHRISTOPHER IS BORN
Gives birth to second son Christopher Edward Wilding, on her own 23rd birthday.

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1956

GIANT
Stars in Giant with Rock Hudson and James Dean.

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MONTGOMERY CLIFT’S ACCIDENT

After leaving a party at Taylor’s house in Beverly Hills, Montgomery Clift crashes his car into a telephone pole. Though he survives, Clift’s face must be reconstructed and he never plays a romantic lead again.

1957

DIVORCE
Divorces Michael Wilding.

MARRIAGE
Marries producer Mike Todd.

ELIZABETH IS BORN
Gives birth to daughter Elizabeth Frances Todd.

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RAINTREE COUNTY
Raintree County is released, starring Taylor and Montgomery Clift. The film was being shot when Clift had his car accident. He finished filming after his face had been reconstructed. People flock to the theater to compare the “before and after” scenes of his face. Taylor is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role. This is her first Oscar nomination.

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1958

TRAGEDY
On March 22, 1958, Todd’s private plane Lucky Liz crashed near Grants, New Mexico.

Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof".

CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF
Stars in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Paul Newman. She is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role. This is her second Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

1959

MARRIAGE
Marries singer Eddie Fisher. Fisher was still married to Debbie Reynolds when the relationship began and the relationship causes a huge scandal. When asked about the relationship in an interview, Taylor quipped: “What do you expect me to do? Sleep alone?”

British-born American actress Elizabeth Taylor (1932 - 2011), holding her Oscar for Best Actress in 'Butterfield 8', with her husband, American singer and actor Eddie Fisher (1928 - 2010), at the 33rd Academy Awards, Santa Monica, California, 17th April 1961.

SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER
Stars in Suddenly, Last Summer with Katharine Hepburn. She is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role. This is her third Best Actress Oscar nomination.

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1960

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BUTTERFIELD 8
Stars in BUtterfield 8 with husband Eddie Fisher. The film is based on the novel by John O’Hara. Taylor hates the movie and tells reporters: “I hate the girl I play.” Nonetheless, the film is a huge success, prompting Taylor to quip: “I still say it stinks.”

1961

CLEOPATRA
Accepts $1,000,000 to play the lead in Cleopatra opposite Richard Burton. This makes her the highest paid actress of the time. During filming, she suffers a life-threatening case of pneumonia and undergoes a tracheotomy.

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WINS FIRST ACADEMY AWARD
Wins her first Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in BUtterfield 8. Though most critics praised her performance, many people believe it to be a sympathy win because of her recent brush with death. Nominee Shirley MacLaine joked: “I lost to a tracheotomy!” Taylor herself later said: “Any of my three previous nominations were more deserving. I knew it was a sympathy award, but I was still proud to get it.”

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1963

CLEOPATRA RELEASED
Cleopatra is released. Taylor later says the film was “surely the most bizarre piece of entertainment ever to be perpetrated.”

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1964

ADOPTION PROCESS STARTED
She and Fisher begin the process of adopting a daughter, Maria.

FOURTH DIVORCE
Divorces Eddie Fisher.

FIFTH MARRIAGE
Marries Richard Burton.

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MARIA ADOPTED
After Taylor marries Burton, Maria is adopted by Burton and takes his last name.

1965

THE SANDPIPER
Stars in The Sandpiper.

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1966

WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
Stars in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? with husband Richard Burton and Sandy Dennis.

The movie "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", directed by Mike Nichols, adapted from the play by Edward Albee. Seen here from left, Elizabeth Taylor as Martha and Richard Burton as George. Initial theatrical release June 22, 1966.  Screen capture. © 1966 Warner Bros. Credit: © 1966 Warner Bros. / Flickr / Courtesy Pikturz. 
Image intended only for use to help promote the film, in an editorial, non-commercial context.

1967

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.

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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.

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1968

BOOM & SECRET CEREMONY
Stars opposite Burton in Boom and with Mia Farrow in Secret Ceremony.

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1969

BURTON-TAYLOR DIAMOND
Richard Burton gives her the 69-carat Burton-Cartier Diamond. It is renamed the Burton-Taylor Diamond.

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1970

THE ONLY GAME IN TOWN
Stars with Warren Beatty in The Only Game in Town.

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1972

ZEE AND CO
Appears with Michael Caine in Zee and Co, and stars opposite Burton in Under Milk Wood and Hammersmith is Out.

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1973

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.

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1974

IDENTIKIT
Stars in Identikit which features Andy Warhol in one of the supporting roles.

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FIRST DIVORCE WITH BURTON
Divorces Richard Burton (for the first time).

1975

REMARRIES BURTON
Remarries Richard Burton.

1976

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.

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1977

RETURN ENGAGEMENT
Stars in the television made movie Return Engagement.

1980

THE MIRROR CRACK’D
Appears in The Mirror Crack’d with Angela Lansbury.

1981

BROADWAY DEBUT
Makes Broadway debut in The Little Foxes. She is nominated for a Tony Award for her role.

Elizabeth Taylor, The Little Foxes, 1981. (Mandatory Credit: Rivka & Moshe Katvan / PhotoShelter)

1982

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.”

1983

PRIVATE LIVES
Appears with former husband Richard Burton in a stage production of Private Lives.

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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.

1985

AmFAR
Close friend Rock Hudson dies of AIDS. Taylor helps launch the American Foundaton for AIDS Research (AmFAR).

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LOUELLA PARSON
Plays movie gossip columnist Louella Parson.

1986

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.

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1987

PASSION
Releases her first perfume, Passion

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1988

RETURN TO BETTY FORD CLINIC
Checks into Betty Ford for a second time. While there, she meets construction worker Larry Fortensky, himself an alcoholic.

1989

AIDS BENEFITS
Speaks at Southeast Asia’s first AIDS benefit held in Thailand and visits AIDS patients at Chulalongkorn University Hospital in Bangkok, and attends the Masquerade Ball to benefit amfAR, NYC.

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1990

CARE ACT TESTIMONY
Testifies before Congress with Jeanne White to urge passage of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act of 1990.

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1991

WHITE DIAMONDS
Releases the perfume, White Diamonds.

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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.

1993

HONORARY OSCAR
Receives Honorary Oscar – Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.

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AFI LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Receives the AFI Life Achievement Award.

THE SIMPSONS
Provides the voice of Maggie Simpson in an episode of “The Simpsons”.

1994

THE FLINTSTONES CAMEO
Makes a cameo appearance as Fred’s mother-in-law in the film, The Flintstones.

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1995

MINISERIES
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.

PERFUMES
Releases several perfumes: Diamonds and Rubies, Diamonds and Emeralds, Diamonds and Sapphires, and Black Pearls.

1996

WORLD AIDS DAY
On World AIDS Day, addresses the General Assembly at the United Nations and speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

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DIVORCE
Divorces Larry Fortensky.

1997

BRAIN TUMOR
Enters the hospital to have a benign brain tumor removed.

LIFE MAGAZINE
Tells Life magazine: “I get ill because I live too hard, I give too much — out of a lust for life. I never back away. I relish life and face it dead-on.”

ELIZABETH, I LOVE YOU
Michael Jackson writes the song “Elizabeth, I Love You” for her 65th birthday

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1999

AFI’S SCREEN LEGENDS
Listed seventh on the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest American female screen legends.

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DAME
Named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in honor of her contributions to the entertainment industry and the fight against AIDS.

2001

THESE OLD BROADS
Stars in the tv movie, These Old Broads, with former rival and now-friend Debbie Reynolds and Shirley MacLaine. The script was written by Carrie Fisher, daughter of Reynolds and Eddie Fisher.

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2002

JOHN F. KENNEDY CENTER HONORS
Receives the John F. Kennedy Center Honors.

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 8:  Actress Elizabeth Taylor (L), one of the recipients of the 2002 Kennedy Center Honors, arrives for a reception on December 8, 2002 at the White House in Washington, D.C.  The Kennedy Center selected five individuals, including actor James Earl Jones, conductor James Levine, musical theater actress Chita Rivera, singer Paul Simon and actress Elizabeth Taylor, to be the recipients of the 2002 Kennedy Center Honors for their contributions to the cultural life of the nation.   (Photo by Adele Starr/Getty Images)

PUBLISHES BOOK
Publishes a book, My Love Affair with Jewelry.

2003

LAST ROLE
Provides the voice of Sarah on an episode of the animated series, “God, the Devil and Bob.” This was Taylor’s last role.

RETIREMENT FROM ACTING
Announces her retirement from acting in 2003, saying she preferred to focus on her AIDS charity work.

2004

HEART FAILURE
Announces that she has congestive heart failure.

2005

SUGAR
Her beloved dog Sugar dies. She had previously said of the dog: “I’ve never loved a dog like this in my life. It’s amazing. Sometimes I think there’s a person in there. There’s something to say for this kind of love – it’s unconditional.”

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BRITTANIA AWARD
Receives the Britannia Award for Artistic Excellence in International Entertainment.

2007

CALIFORNIA HALL OF FAME
Inducted into California Hall of Fame.

2011

TAYLOR’S PASSING
She dies of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles on March 23rd, 2011.

CHRISTIE’S AUCTION
The landmark auctions of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor at Christie’s New York from December 3-17 realizes a combined total of over $156M with every single item sold. The sale draws unprecedented interest from bidders throughout the world, and the total far exceeded Christie’s pre-sale expectations for the sale as a whole and for individual items. This historic sale sets a world record for the most valuable sale of jewelry in auction history, and set a new bar for the most valuable collection of fashion ever offered at auction. A portion of the profits generated by sales of exhibition tickets, event sponsorships and the ongoing sales of select publications are donated to The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF).