One of the 20th Century’s biggest movie stars died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 79, her publicist said.
Elizabeth Taylor (photo, from 20minutes.fr) had a long history of ill health and had been hospitalised six weeks ago with congestive heart failure, a condition with which she had struggled for some years, and had recently suffered complications.
Her four children were with her when she died and her son Michael Wilding said in a statement : “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.”
“Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a businesswoman, and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us all incredibly proud of what she accomplished.
“We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for Mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts,” he said.
National Velvet, Cleopatra and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? are some of her most famous films.
The English-American actress started her career at the age of 12 and was equally well-known for her glamour and film partnership with Richard Burton, who was one of her seven husbands.
Although the peak of her film career came in the 1950s and 1960s, she was never far from the spotlight because of her colourful private life, screen success and Aids charity work.
She won four Oscar nominations in a row from 1958 to 1961. After losing out in the first three attempts, she triumphed for her portrayal of a high-class call girl in Butterfield 8. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
In 1967 she won her second Oscar for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, one of 12 films with Mr Burton.
The two met while filming 1963’s Cleopatra, one of the most expensive films of all time, but which also sparked one of Hollywood’s greatest romances.
When Elizabeth Taylor married Richard Burton in 1964 she had already been married four times, to Conrad Hilton Jr, Michael Wilding, Michael Todd and Eddie Fisher.
After their divorce she was married with John W Warner and Larry Fortensky.
A fall while filming her first hit film, National Velvet, marked the beginning of a lifetime of back problems.
In 1961 a rare strain of pneumonia almost killed her and she also battled addictions to alcohol and painkillers.
After enduring two hip replacement operations and another near-fatal bout of pneumonia, Ms Taylor survived surgery for a benign brain tumour, all in the 1990s.
Although it was revealed in 2004 that she was suffering from congestive heart failure, with symptoms including fatigue and shortness of breath, and scoliosis, which twisted her spine, she kept campaigning for her Aids charity. She set it up following the death of her friend and co-star Rock Hudson.
‘True Hollywood Icons’
In addition to her four children – Michael Wilding, Christopher Wilding, Maria Burton-Carson and Liza Todd-Tivey – she is also survived by 10 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Later this week a private family funeral will be held but instead of flowers, the family has requested that contributions be made to the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation.
She was called “the last of the True Hollywood Icons” by British actress Joan Collins, who starred alongside Ms Taylor in the 2001 TV film These Old Broads.
“A great beauty, a great actress and continually fascinating to the World throughout her tumultuous life and career. She will be missed,” she added.
Singer George Michael said: “She also did a great deal in the last 25 yrs [sic] to help the world deal with the HIV epidemic. I am proud to have known her if only a little.”
One-time co-star Sir Michael Caine remembered her as “a beautiful woman, a wonderful actress, and a great human being.”