The actress, who was suffering from congestive heart failure, passed away at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles in the early hours of Wednesday morning (23Mar11) with her children by her side. Taylor’s death comes six weeks after she was hospitalised because of her ill health.
Her son Michael Wilding confirmed the sad news and paid tribute to his late mother in a statement, which reads, “My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humour, and love. Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear, we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.”
A statement from Taylor’s representative reads, “Legendary actress, businesswoman, and fearless activist Elizabeth Taylor died peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. She was surrounded by her children… The actress had been hospitalised six weeks ago with congestive heart failure, a condition with which she had struggled for some years. Though she had recently suffered a number of complications, her condition had stabilised and it was hoped that she would be able to return home. Sadly, this was not to be.”
A private funeral will be held later this week (beg21Mar11) and the family has asked for donations to be made to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. Plans for a memorial service will be announced at a later date.
Born in Hampstead, north London on 27 February 1932, Taylor was the second child to Francis Lenn Taylor and Sara Viola Warmbrodt, who were Americans residing in England.
She appeared in her first motion picture at the age of nine for Universal Studios before later signing with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and starring in 1943’s Lassie Come Home, but it was her role in 1944’s National Velvet that skyrocketed her to stardom at the tender age of 12.
Taylor went on to carve out a hugely successful Hollywood career, with her most famous roles including turns in Cleopatra and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She picked up a long list of accolades for her performances over the years including two Academy Awards for Best Actress, for Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), and four Golden Globes, while she was declared a Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1999.
But despite her stellar success, Taylor was arguably more famous for her eight marriages.
Her first marriage to Conrad Hilton ended after just eight months in 1951. A year later (52) she married Michael Wilding and the couple went on to have two sons. They divorced in 1957 and just days later she wed theatre producer Michael Todd – the father of her daughter Liza – but he died in 1958 when his private jet, named Lucky Liz, crashed in New Mexico.
Fourteen months after Todd’s death, Taylor married his best friend, actor Eddie Fisher and they went on to star together in her Oscar-winning movie Butterfield 8. The union came to an end in 1964 and just nine days after her divorce from Fisher was finalised, Taylor married Richard Burton for the first time.
They met while shooting 1963 epic Cleopatra in Italy and their onscreen romance quickly turned into an offscreen love affair.
Taylor’s marriage to Burton crumbled and the couple divorced in 1974 after 10 years together, but they remarried in a secret ceremony in Africa 16 months later (10Oct75).
The actress admitted she had remarried Burton after an x-ray revealed spots on her lungs which she feared were cancerous. She said the anxious 12 hours of waiting for the prognosis, which turned out to be clear, convinced her to remarry her lover.
They divorced for a second time in 1976 and Taylor went on to wed John Warner later that year (76) and Larry Fortensky in 1991. Both marriages ended in divorce.
Taylor is survived by four children: Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding and Liza Todd and adoptive daughter Maria Burton.