Elizabeth Taylor at her best was a beautiful sight to behold. Born in London in 1932 to American parents, she was gracing screens before she was ten. Stardom followed. She would win Best Actress Oscars: for Butterfield 8 and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1960 and 1966 respectively.
Playing Cleopatra brought her together with Richard Burton, who she went on to marry. Twice. She had a passion for marriage, tying the knot eight times with seven different husbands.
In the 1970s, Taylor’s health began to fail her. Her film-making slowed down. Reviewers were often scornful, her public disappointed.
Yet more than ever, movie-lovers followed her private life in the mass media. Despite sometimes venomous criticism, Taylor’s popularity rose to a new height. In 2000 her regal namesake Queen Elizabeth II made her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
The first actress to have commanded superstar salaries in film was now devoted to AIDS charities.
Fundraising was her forte and she helped raise millions.
She was the first celebrity to get involved and fight for HIV attention, before it became fashionable. She screamed for education – about sex and against ignorance.
“I come before you today not as an actress but on behalf of all those living with Aids. I am the advocate of the dying child in an impoverished nation. I am the voice of the needle-user in the inner city. I am the delegate of the prostitute in the urban street. I simply ask you for help for all those who cannot speak.“
Taylor recruited and worked with a vast circle of friends for the cause. She said it became her life and that while on tour promoting her perfume she would seek out patients’ hospices, where the press did not follow her.
An associate said: “She works very hard to let people know that it’s not over.“ She wanted to be remembered most for her work with Aids sufferers.