Elizabeth Taylor was an Academy-Award winning British-American actress who converted to Judaism in 1959. The American Film Institute named her seventh on its Female Legends list.
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born February 27, 1932, in Hampstead, England, the second child of Americans residing in England, art dealer Francis Lenn Taylor and actress Sara Viola Warmbrodt. The family moved back to the United States in 1939, before the beginning of World War II, and settled in Los Angeles, California.
In September 1941, Taylor was signed to six-month renewable contract with Universal Pictures and appeared in her first motion picture, There's One Born Every Minute, at age nine. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) signed Taylor in October 1942 and cast her in Lassie Come Home. She was skyrocketed to stardom at age 12 with the December 1944 release of National Velvet, in which she costarred with Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury. Some of her other adolescent roles included Mary Skinner in Life With Father (1947), Cynthia Bishop in Cynthia (1947), Carol Pringle in A Date with Judy (1948), Susan Prackett in Julia Misbehaves (1948) and Amy in the American classic Little Women (1949).
Her first box office success as an adult lead in a film was in the romantic comedy Father of the Bride (1950), alongside Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett. Her performance as Angela Vickers in A Place In The Sun earned her critical acclaim as a dramatic actress and cemented her place in cinematic history. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her roles in Raintree County (1957), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). In 1960, Taylor became the highest paid actress up to that time when she signed a one million dollar contract to play the title role in 20th Century Fox's lavish production of Cleopatra (1963).
Taylor won her first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her performance as Gloria Wandrous in BUtterfield 8 (1960), which co-starred then husband Eddie Fisher. Her second Academy Award, also for Best Actress in a Leading Role, was for her performance as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), playing opposite then husband Richard Burton.
In addition to her prolific film career, Taylor made her stage debuts on Broadway and West End in 1982.
Taylor was married eight times; to Conrad "Nicky" Hilton from May 1950 to January 1951, to Michael Wilding from February 1952 to January 1957, to Michael Todd from February 1957 until his death in March 1958, to Eddie Fisher from Mary 1959 to March 1964, to Richard Burton from March 1964 to June 1974 and again from October 1975 through July 1976, to John Warner from December 1976 to November 1982 and to Larry Fortensky from October 1991 to October 1996. Taylor converted to Judaism in 1959 following the death of her third husband, Michael Todd, who was Jewish, and before marrying Jewish actor Eddie Fisher. She traveled to Israel and fund raised for the Jewish state during the Arab boycott in the 1970s. She was also a supporter of the Kabbalah Center in Los Angeles.
In November 2004, Taylor announced that she had been diagnosed with congestive heart failure, a progressive condition in which the heart is too weak to pump sufficient blood throughout the body, particularly to the lower extremities. She broke her back five times, had both her hips replaced, survived a benign brain tumor operation and skin cancer, and faced life-threatening bouts with pneumonia twice.
In February 2011, new symptoms related to congestive heart failure caused Taylor to be admitted into Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for treatment. She died on March 23, 2011, at age 79. At the time of her death she was survived by her four children, ten grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Sources: JTA, Wikipedia