Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, DBE (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011), also known as Liz Taylor, was an English-American actress.
Beginning as a child star, as an adult she came to be known for her acting talent and beauty, and had a much publicised private life, including eight marriages and several near death experiences. Taylor was considered one of the great actresses of Hollywood’s golden age. The American Film Institute named Taylor seventh on its Female Legends list.
Taylor had a passion for jewelry. She was a client of well-known jewelry designer, Shlomo Moussaieff. Over the years she owned a number of well-known pieces, two of the most talked-about being the 33.19-carat (6.64 g) Krupp Diamond and the 69.42-carat (13.88 g) pear-shaped Taylor-Burton Diamond, which were among many gifts from husband Richard Burton. Taylor also owned the 50-carat (10 g) La Peregrina Pearl, purchased by Burton as a Valentine’s Day present in 1969. The pearl was formerly owned by Mary I of England, and Burton sought a portrait of Queen Mary wearing the pearl. Upon the purchase of such a painting, the Burtons discovered that the British National Portrait Gallery did not have an original painting of Mary, so they donated the painting to the Gallery. Her enduring collection of jewelry has been documented in her book My Love Affair with Jewelry (2002) with photographs by the New York photographer John Bigelow Taylor (no relation).
Taylor started designing jewels for The Elizabeth Collection, creating fine jewelry with elegance and flair. The Elizabeth Taylor collection by Piranesi is sold at Christie’s. She also launched three perfumes, “Passion”, “White Diamonds”, and “Black Pearls”, which, together, earn an estimated US$200 million in annual sales. In fall 2006, Taylor celebrated the 15th anniversary of her White Diamonds perfume, one of the top 10 best selling fragrances for more than the past decade.
Taylor devoted much time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. She helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) after the death of her former costar and friend, Rock Hudson. She also created her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (ETAF). By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated US$50 million to fight the disease. In 2006, Taylor commissioned a 37-foot (11 m) “Care Van” equipped with examination tables and X Ray equipment and also donated US$40,000 to the New Orleans Aids task force, a charity designed for the New Orleans population with AIDS and HIV. The donation of the van was made by the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation and Macy’s.
In the early 1980s, Taylor moved to Bel Air, Los Angeles, California, which was her residence until her death. She also owned homes in Palm Springs, London and Hawaii.
Taylor was a supporter of Kabbalah and member of the Kabbalah Centre. She encouraged long-time friend Michael Jackson to wear a red string as protection from the evil-eye during his 2005 trial for molestation, where he was eventually cleared of all charges. On 6 October 1991, Taylor had married construction worker Larry Fortensky at Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. In 1997, Jackson presented Taylor with the exclusively written-for-her epic song “Elizabeth, I Love You”, performed on the day of her 65th birthday celebration.
In October 2007, Taylor won a legal battle, over a Van Gogh painting in her possession, View of the Asylum and Chapel at Saint Remy. The United States Supreme Court refused to reconsider a legal suit filed by four persons claiming that the artwork belonged to one of their Jewish ancestors, regardless of any statute of limitations.
Taylor attended Michael Jackson’s private funeral on 3 September 2009.