Actress Elizabeth Taylor dies aged 79

Elizabeth Taylor, hailed as one of the most beautiful screen actresses of the 20th century, has died, aged 79. She was married eight times during a film and TV career lasting more than 60 years.

The actress, who won two Oscars in the 1960s, had spent recent years raising funds for AIDS charities.

She died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles surrounded by her four children. A statement from her publicist said Liz Taylor was hospitalised six weeks ago with congestive heart failure.

Her son Michael Wilding said: “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.”

The Official Elizabeth Taylor website describes her as one of the greatest film stars of all time: “Elizabeth Taylor is probably best known for two things. Her role as Cleopatra in the 1963 film (of the same name) and her eight marriages to seven different men between 1951 and 1996.”

She was twice honoured in Hollywood with an Oscar for Best Actress in the films Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? She also received nominations for Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer.

A life in film

Taylor was born in London in 1932, but her family moved to the United States at the start of the second world war.

Her appearance as a young showjumper in the 1944 film National Velvet made her an international star.

One of her most celebrated appearances came in the 1958 film Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, based on the play by Tennessee Williams. She played opposite Paul Newman as a southern temptress, spurned by her gay husband.

Other film successes included Giant (1956) with Rock Hudson and James Dean, and Suddenly, Last Summer, another Tennessee Williams adaptation.

Her relationship with future husband Richard Burton defined her film performances in the 1960s.

In 1962 she starred as Cleopatra in the film of the same name opposite future husband Richard Burton.

Her relationship with the Welsh actor, whom she married in 1964, defined her cinematic performances in the 1960s, which included Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966) and Taming Of The Shrew (1967).

Her film appearances continued in the 1970s and 1980s, but she failed to garner the critical or box office acclaim she enjoyed in the 1950s and 60s.

Eight marriages

Elizabeth Taylor was as famous for her husbands as for her film appearances. She was married eight times, to seven husbands.

Her first marriage, in 1950, to Nicky Hilton, the hotel heir, lasted less than a year. She was married three more times in the 1950s, to British actor Michael Wilding, movie producer Mike Todd, and crooner Eddie Fisher.

Her relationship with Richard Burton was among the most famous in Hollywood history. Their first marriage lasted between 1964 and 1974. Following a divorce, they remarried in October 1975 – a union which lasted until August of the following year.

Her seventh husband was Republican politician John Warner, to whom she was married between 1976 and 1982. In 1991 she pledged her troth to construction worker Larry Fortensky, whom she had met while being treated for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Clinic. She divorced him five years later.

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