Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor DBE (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) was a British-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s, and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She continued her career successfully into the 1960s, and remained a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend.
Born in London to wealthy, socially prominent American parents, Taylor moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1939, and she was soon given a film contract by Universal Pictures. in 1944 she had her breakthrough role in National Velvet (1944), becoming one of the studio’s most popular teenaged stars. She made the transition to adult roles in the early 1950s, when she starred in the comedy Father of the Bride (1950) and received critical acclaim for her performance in the drama A Place in the Sun (1951). She went onto star roles in Giant (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) and BUtterfield 8 (1960).
Taylor was paid a then-record-breaking $1 million to play the title role in the historical epic Cleopatra (1963). During the filming, Taylor and co-star Richard Burton began an extramarital affair and were married in 1964. Dubbed “Liz and Dick” by the media, they starred in 11 films together, including The V.I.P.s (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).
Taylor’s acting career began to decline in the late 1960s, although she continued starring in films until the mid-1970s. In the 1980s, she acted in her first substantial stage roles and in several television films and series, and became the first celebrity to launch a perfume brand. Taylor was also one of the first celebrities to take part in HIV/AIDS activism, co-founding the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985, and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991.
After many years of ill health, Taylor died from congestive heart failure in 2011, at the age of 79.