24 March 2011

Elizabeth Taylor 1932 – 2011

Elizabeth Taylor died in hospital in LA yesterday morning, aged 79. She was surrounded by her four children at the end. Her son Michael Wilding led the tributes by saying, ‘She was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the full, with great passion, humour and love. Her remarkable body of film, and success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy of in the fight against HIV and Aids, make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished.’ 

 

The two time Oscar-winning movie star, born in 1932 in London to American parents, started her career very young and went on to charm movie audiences, fashion fans, gossip junkies and the world's press during her life. Her on-screen triumphs included National Velvet (above); which catapulted her to the world's attention when just 12 years-old - Butterfield 8, for which she won her first Oscar, the critically panned but guilty-pleasure classic Cleopatra for which she earned a then-unheard-of $1 million fee, and Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf with her two-time husband, Richard Burton.

 

In the fashion stakes, she very much created her own style, rather than follow trends. Her impressive bouffey hairstyle topped off elegant ballgowns by the likes of Christian Dior, lashings of fur and mounds of diamond jewellery. She is always spoken of in awed terms for her flashing violet eyes, and her eyebrows were mesmerising in their own right. Rather than be a figure of envy by ordinary women, she became a role model, as women everywhere daydreamed about living like Liz – all fast cars, beautiful houses, silky negligees, dramatic makeup and high-heeled mules, and a jetsetting lifestyle of drinking cocktails in the middle of the afternoon - but also empathised with her frail health and ability to get through anything life threw at her.

 

Respected by the critics for her acting skills as she was, part of her enduring legend and popularity was down to the fact that her personal life held more twists and turns than any Hollywood screenplay – she married a total of eight timesfirst to hotelier Conrad Hilton (above), although twice to Welsh screen star Richard Burton, whose death in 1984 from alcoholism was said to be a blow that Elizabeth never entirely recovered from.

 

Later in life, as she made movies less frequently, she devoted much energy to the fight against HIV and Aids following the death of her fellow Hollywood star and good friend Rock Hudson, raising several million pounds and also bringing awareness of the issues to many more people than charities would be able to do without such celebrity support.

Elizabeth Taylor fabulous facts –

She had a great sense of humour and was happy not to take herself too seriously in private or public. She even made a BT commercial back in the Nineties, where she puzzled, of her eight engagements. ‘Ring back? Darling, I NEVER give the ring back!’

She had already been declared dead four times before yesterday as she suffered with ill health throughout her life. Once, on waking from a coma she fluttered her eyelashes and requested some champagne.

Other ailments she managed to recover from were a brain tumour, skin cancer, hip replacements, and a hysterectomy.

 

In 2000 she was honoured by the Queen and made a Dame at Buckingham Palace. She emerged with her medal and declared; 'I’ve always been a broad, now I’m a Dame.’

Twitter tributes to her include Kylie Minogue saying ‘RIP Dame Elizabeth Taylor . . .Like a pure white diamond you’ll shine on and on; Victoria Beckham who said 'The world has lost a truly iconic beauty, inside and out.Elizabeth Taylor will be deeply missed.' And Boy George who said R.I.P the amazing Liz Taylor, goddess, actress, aids activist and one of the world’s true beauties.  

- Naomi Attwood


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