Fashion & Lifestyle December 2020

“The Reagans” Episode Highlights How ‘Heroic’ Elizabeth Taylor Lobbied President to Acknowledge AIDS

The final episode of Showtime's documentary series The Reagans explores Elizabeth Taylor’s role in pushing President Ronald Reagan to recognize the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 1987. “It’s fair to say that Elizabeth Taylor was entirely responsible for anything that the Reagan administration did publicly,” The Reagans director Matt Tyrnauer told People Magazine.

He continued, “I’m convinced nothing would’ve happened without her.” Tyrnauer says that Elizabeth should get “the credit she deserves” in helping push the White House to take action. “Elizabeth Taylor’s the hero here and she deserves all of the accolades,” he says. “The more people realize that heroic aspect of all she did to bring attention to the issue and to save lives, the better.”

Reagan avoided speaking about the HIV/AIDS epidemic throughout much of his time in office until Elizabeth convinced him to make a keynote speech about the disease at a 1987 dinner for amfAR (then known as the American Foundation for AIDS Research), which she co-founded in the mid-1980s. Elizabeth personally lobbied Reagan to make the speech with letters to the president and conversations with First Lady Nancy Reagan. For Elizabeth, HIV/AIDS was not political, it was a public health emergency that needed to be addressed by the U.S. government.

The Reagans finale aired last Sunday and is currently available for streaming on Showtime. Click here to read more.