Elizabeth Taylor (1932 - 2011)
Elizabeth Taylor, the first woman to command a salary of $1,000,000 for her role in 1963's over-blown "Cleopatra", has died at the age of 79.
Taylor, who officially announced her retirement from acting in 2003, is one of the last great film stars from the old Hollywood studio system. At that time, actors and actresses were not signed to movies but instead signed to contracts for multiple films for a studio.
Taylor, who was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II on New Year's Eve of 1999, was famous for her activism and philanthropy along with her iconic roles in such films as "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf", "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof", "GIANT", and "Butterfield 8". Taylor won Best Actress Oscars for "Virginia Wolf" and "Butterfield 8". Her for "Butterfield 8" (her fourth consecutive Oscar nod from 1958 - 1961) was controversial to some because many in Hollywood viewed the win as a sympathy vote. She had just lost her husband Michael Todd and she herself had an emergency life-saving tracheotomy to which the scar was visible on Oscar night. Her illness was so severe that at one point she was actually pronounced dead. Many years later, in 1997, Taylor underwent successful surgery to remove a benign brain tumor. Taylor also had surgery to repair a leaky heart valve in 2009, had broken her back four times, and quit smoking after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 1975.
Ms. Taylor was as well known for many things other than her illustrious acting career. She was the face of a vast line of perfumes during the 1990's, she and Michael Jackson had a great friendship that was covered by the media from all angles, and she was married 8 times to 7 different men. She and Richard Burton (who starred in 11 films together) were divorced in 1974 after a decade of marriage only to remarry in 1975 before calling it quits again less than a year later.
Elizabeth Taylor was an actress of such beauty and grandeur, who lived a life that everyone was interested in keeping tabs of off-screen, that her presence on screen was often the main catalyst to fill theater seats and studios backed these celluloid adventures with heaps of money despite her, often, frail physical condition.
Dame Elizabeth Taylor was also the founding international chairman of amFAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research that has raised millions upon millions of dollars to combat AIDS and raise awareness for prevention, education, and treatment strategies for HIV and AIDS.
No matter what anyone thinks Dame Elizabeth Taylor will always be remembered as a major movie star, one of the first women to command her films and an icon who inspired many young actresses to pursue their Hollywood dreams.