By now, you’ve probably heard the sad news coming out of Hollywood this morning. Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor is dead at age 79. She was being treated at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles for congestive heart failure.
Her career spanned virtually her entire life. She’s one of Hollywood’s most successful leading ladies of all time. Though many will remember her for her association with Michael Jackson, or perhaps for her many marriages, such folks are only scratching the surfaces. For Taylor’s life is littered with remarkable accomplishments and interesting facts. Here are but 10 of them.
1. Taylor was born with a mutation that caused a double row of eyelashes which did nothing but accentuate one of the beauty’s most stunning features.
2. Universal Studios signed Taylor to her first contract when she was just 9 years old. She earned $100 per week when she appeared in her first film, There’s One Born Every Minute.
3. Universal quickly dumped Taylor, however, because the actress couldn’t dance and sing. MGM was happy to pick her up, however, and cast her as Pricilla in the classic Lassie Come Home.
4. Taylor’s big break came via the role of Velvet Brown in National Velvet, a movie which would forever change her life.
5. While filming National Velvet, Taylor fell from a horse. Many of the ongoing back problems that would plague the actress have been linked to that accident.
6. The role of Velvet Brown may have forever change her life, but her portrayal of Angela Vickers in A Place in the Sun likely put her on the map forever. Vickers was a spoiled socialite who tried to get in the way of George Eastman and his working-class girlfriend, Alice and greatly helped Taylor as she attempted to transform from adolescent newcomer to adult superstar.
7. In 1960, she became Hollywood’s highest paid actress when she signed a one million dollar contract to appear as the title role in the film Cleopatra.
8. Taylor won Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role first for her portrayal of Gloria Wandrous in Butterfield 8 and next for her performance as Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?
9. Taylor was a tremendous advocate of AIDS-related charities and helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research after the death of Rock Hudson.
10. The American Film Institute named Elizabeth Taylor seventh on its list of Female Legends.
In addition to her legacy, Taylor leaves behind four children and nine grandchildren.