Feb 27, 2008

I'm Comin' Elizabeth!

To celebrate your birthday, of course. Beloved actress, activist, cinema icon, entrepeneur and jewelry enthusiast Dame Elizabeth Taylor turns 76 today.

Arguably the last and most beautiful of the enduring and legendary stars to come out of Hollywood's Studio Era, London-born Liz moved to America at age 7, became box office gold at just 12 years old with the release of just her fifth film, National Velvet, and spent the succeeding decades cementing her star status - but the tumult and scandal of her private life has often overshadowed the luminous and lasting contributions she has made, both to American cinema during its Golden Age and to the charitable organizations to which she now donates her time. Read on as I proffer some tidbits on Miss Taylor, who:

Was married eight times to seven different men; her collective surnames would make her Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Warner Fortensky. She is currently not married, and recently expressed shock when a red-carpet reporter broached the subject of future nuptials.

Has four children from three relationships: sons Michael and Christopher Wilding, and daughters Liza Todd and Maria Burton.

Threw a "You Can All Go To Hell" party after her wedding to singer Eddie Fisher as a jab at the press, who hounded her during the couple's courtship - a scandal at the time, as he was still married to America's Sweetheart, actress Debbie Reynolds. Elizabeth and Debbie have since reconciled, collaborated on the made-for-tv film These Old Broads, and collectively loathe Fisher.

Was the first actress to earn a million dollars' salary for a film, 1963's Cleopatra.

Was nominated for Best Actress Academy Award five times in ten years; she took home the gold twice.

Received a 69-carat diamond from fifth husband Richard Burton, one of the world's largest, and later auctioned it off to fund an overseas hospital. It sold for over $3 million.

Has worked to raise AIDS awareness and financial support since 1985, and established an AIDS Foundation in 1991. She is a staunch and tireless advocate of research, fundraising, and public knowledge campaigns, and has auctioned off several pieces of her personal jewelry to benefit her efforts.

She launched a line of fragrances - all named after precious stones - the most popular of which is her signature White Diamonds.

Published the immensely popular My Love Affair with Jewelry, a beautiful coffee-table guide to her celebrated baubles collection, in 2002.

Elizabeth formally retired from acting in 2003, but she has made references to the fact that her recurring ill health has rendered her uninsurable by film studios (she has undergone surgery to remove a brain tumor as well as suffered a broken back numerous times).

Currently lives in Southern California, where she is actively involved in the business aspect of her AIDS foundation and its numerous charitable activities.

To a lady who has left us with as many film gems as she has diamonds in her jewelry box, Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!


Giant, Cleopatra, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof - What's your favorite Elizabeth film? Post in the comments section below.

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