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Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011, Film Star & AIDS Activist, Dies at Age 79
photo provided by Bruce-Michael Gelbert
Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra
Elizabeth Taylor, born in London, England on February 27, 1932, passed away from congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on March 23. The violet-eyed star of numerous films, of which “Cleopatra” was perhaps the most famous, she won Oscars for her performances in “Butterfield 8” and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and appeared on Broadway in “The Little Foxes” and “Private Lives.” She is well-remembered also as a founder of the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR), for AIDS research, advocacy, and education, which she started, with Dr. Mathilde Krim, in 1985, after the death of her friend and colleague, actor Rock Hudson, from AIDS, and of her own Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991, for provision of AIDS services.

amFAR issued the following statement: “The board of trustees and staff of amfAR mourn the passing of our beloved Founding International Chairman, Dame Elizabeth Taylor. Dame Elizabeth was without doubt one of the most inspirational figures in the fight against AIDS. She was among the first to speak out on behalf of people living with HIV when others reacted with fear and often outright hostility. For 25 years, Dame Elizabeth has been a passionate advocate of AIDS research, treatment and care. She has testified eloquently on Capitol Hill, while raising millions of dollars for amfAR. Dame Elizabeth’s compassion, radiance, and generosity of spirit will be greatly missed by us all. She leaves a monumental legacy that has improved and extended millions of lives and will enrich countless more for generations to come.”

The song “Elizabeth,” from the Howard Crabtree musical “Whoop Dee Doo!,” affectionately remembered her “ten glorious names” and seven husband, in chronological order, with a refrain of “I love you, Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky,” the husband having been Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Jr., Michael Wilding, Michael Todd, Eddie Fisher—for whom she converted to Judaism, Richard Burton—twice, Virginia Senator John Warner, and Larry Fortensky. She also had four children, Christopher Edward Wilding, Michael Howard Wilding, Jr., Elizabeth (Liza) Francis Todd Tivey, and Maria Burton Carson, who were with her when she died.

Taylor’s films, beside those mentioned above, included “National Velvet,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Suddenly Last Summer,” “Giant,” and “The Taming of the Shrew.”

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