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Elizabeth Taylor: A Life in Pictures

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Elizabeth Taylor was one of the 20th century’s biggest movie stars, who hit the headlines for her personal life as much as her glittering film career. Stylist looks back at the life of the Hollywood style icon, charity worker, prolific tweeter and Oscar-winning actress.

  • A Star is Born

    Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on 27 February 1932 in Hampstead, London, the second child of art dealer Francis Lenn Taylor and former actress Sara Viola Warmbrodt, both originally from Arkansas, Kansas.

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  • Early Career

    Elizabeth secured one of her first major roles as Priscilla in ‘Lassie Come Home’, which led to a seven year contract with MGM, and appearances in films such as Jane Eyre (1944) and The White Cliffs of Dover (1944).

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  • Star Status

    Elizabeth was propelled to stardom at the tender age of 12, playing a young girl who trains her beloved horse to win the Grand National, in National Velvet. Starring Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury, the film grossed over $4 million at the box office and led to Liz's reputation as a bankable adolescent star, with the nickname “One Shot Liz” (she could shoot a scene in one take).

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  • Moving Up

    A Place in the Sun (1951) was one of Elizabeth's breakout roles as an adult actress.

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  • First Marriage

    Elizabeth’s first of her seven marriages was to Conrad “Nicky” Hilton, son of the Hilton Hotels founder. They wed in 1950, only to divorce the next year, reportedly because of Hilton’s drinking problem.

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  • Motherhood

    Elizabeth had four children, three she gave birth to and one she adopted. Here she is pictured with her first born son Michael Jr, who she had with her second husband Michael Wilding in 1953.

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  • Classic Beauty

    Elizabeth was famed for her great beauty and remained a style icon throughout her career.

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  • Second Marriage

    Elizabeth married her second husband in February 1952, and they divorced in January 1957.

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  • Third Marriage

    Elizabeth’s third trip up the aisle (she wed film producer Michael Todd in 1957) ended in tragedy when Todd was killed whilst flying his private plane, Lucky Liz – named after the actress herself.

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  • Fourth Marriage

    Taylor caused controversy when American singer and entertainer Eddie Fisher divorced his first wife, actress Debbie Reynolds, to marry Elizabeth causing the two women to fall out – although Reynolds admitted she could understand being left for “the most world’s most beautiful woman”.

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  • Oscar Winner

    Yearning for meatier roles in her adult career, she starred in a string of controversial films like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), but it was Butterfield 8 (1960) that would cement her status as an iconic actress. Taylor won the Best Actress Oscar (her first) for her performance as Gloria Wandrous.

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  • Record Breaker

    In 1960, Elizabeth became the highest paid actress in Hollywood for her role in Cleopatra, signing a one million dollar contract.

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  • Richard Burton

    Her marriage to Richard Burton was the most tumultuous. She divorced him in 1974, only to remarry him one year later. Their affair during the filming of Cleopatra in 1960 became a hot topic in the tabloids, and they went on to appear together in six other films – The V.I.P.s (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), Doctor Faustus (1967), The Comedians {1967} and Boom! (1968).

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  • A Second Oscar

    Elizabeth won her second Oscar for her role as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966).

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  • Seventh Marriage

    Taylor wed American politician John Warner in December 1976. They were together for six years before divorcing.

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  • Humanitarian Award

    Recieving the Jean Hersholt award at the Oscars in 1993. She also received the Legion of Honour from France for her charity work in 1987 and was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth in May 2000.

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  • Eighth Marriage

    Taylor’s final marriage was not to a leading man, but rather construction worker Larry Fortensky, who was twenty years her junior. The marriage lasted for five years before they divorced in 1996.

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  • Famous Friends

    Elizabeth had a number of close celebrity friends, from Liza Minnelli to Michael Caine. Her most controversial friend was the late Michael Jackson, who she described as “the most normal person I know”.

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  • Causes and Charity Work

    Taylor devoted much of her later life to fundraising for charities and raising awareness of third world and aids-related causes. After the death of her former co-star and friend Rock Hudson, she created the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation, which has since raised an estimated $12,000,000 to fight the disease.

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  • Later Life

    Ever modern and in tune with the media, Elizabeth fully embraced twitter, enjoying “the connection with fans and the people who have been supportive of me”.

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    Picture credits: Rex Features