Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, DBE (born 27th February 1932), also known as Liz Taylor, is an English-born British-American actress. Known for her acting skills, beauty and her Hollywood lifestyle, including many marriages. Taylor is considered one of the great actresses of Hollywood's golden years, as well as a larger-than-life celebrity.
Taylor was born in Hampstead, north-west London, the second child of Francis Lenn Taylor (1897–1968) and Sara Viola Warmbrodt (1895–1994), who were Americans residing in England.
Taylor appeared in her first motion picture at the age of nine in There's One Born Every Minute, her first and only film for Universal Pictures. On 15 October 1942, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer signed Taylor to $100 a week for up to three months to appear as Priscilla in Lassie Come Home, which starred child star Roddy McDowall, with whom Taylor would share a lifelong friendship.
It was Taylor's persistence in campaigning for the role of Velvet Brown in MGM's National Velvet that sky-rocketed Taylor to stardom at the tender age of 12. National Velvet grossed over US$4 million at the box office and Taylor was signed to a new long-term contract that raised her salary to $30,000 per year.
Her reputation as a bankable adolescent star and nickname of "One-Shot Liz" (referring to her ability to shoot a scene in one take) promised her a full and bright career with Metro. Taylor's portrayal as Amy, in the American classic Little Women (1949) would prove to be her last adolescent role.
In 1963, Taylor became the highest paid movie star up until that time when she accepted US$1 million to play the title role in the lavish production of Cleopatra for 20th Century Fox. It was during the filming of that movie that she worked for the first time with future husband Richard Burton, who played Mark Antony. Movie magazines, the forerunners of today's tabloids, had a field day when Taylor and Burton began an affair during filming; both stars were married to other people at the time.
Taylor won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performances in BUtterfield 8 (1960), which co-starred then husband Eddie Fisher, and again for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), which co-starred then husband Richard Burton and the Supporting Actress Oscar winner, Sandy Dennis.
Burton and Taylor would star together in several films during the decade, including The VIPs (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), and in Franco Zeffirelli's 1967 production of The Taming of the Shrew. Following her second Oscar win, Taylor continued to appear in major films such as John Huston's Reflections in a Golden Eye opposite Marlon Brando (replacing Montgomery Clift, who died before production began) and The Comedians (with Burton again).
After her Hollywood heyday, Taylor appeared in occasional film roles. She has also appeared on a number of television series, including the soap operas General Hospital and All My Children, as well as the animated series The Simpsons—once as herself, and once as the voice of Maggie Simpson.
Taylor has also acted on the stage, making her Broadway and West End debuts in 1982 with a revival of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes. She was then in a production of Noel Coward's Private Lives (1983), in which she starred with her former husband, Richard Burton.
Taylor has a passion for jewellery and over the years she has owned a number of well-known pieces, two of the most talked-about being the 33.19-carat (6.64 g) Krupp Diamond and the 69.42-carat (13.88 g) pear-shaped Taylor-Burton Diamond, which were among many gifts from husband Richard Burton. Taylor also owns the 50-carat (10 g) La Peregrina Pearl, purchased by Burton as a Valentine's Day present in 1969. The pearl was formerly owned by Mary I of England, and Burton sought a portrait of Queen Mary wearing the pearl. Upon the purchase of the painting, the Burtons discovered that the British National Portrait Gallery did not have an original painting of Mary, so they donated the painting to the Gallery. Her enduring collection of jewellery has been documented in her book My Love Affair with Jewellery (2002) with photographs by the New York photographer John Bigelow Taylor (no relation).
Taylor has devoted much time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. She helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) after the death of her former co-star and friend, Rock Hudson. She also created her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (ETAF). By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated US$50 million to fight the disease.