Legendary Actress Elizabeth Taylor Dies at Age 79
Elizabeth Taylor, whose acting talent and made-for-tabloids personal life made her one of Hollywood's most alluring and lasting figures, died Wednesday at age 79. Taylor's publicist, Sally Morrison,confirmed that the actress died of congestive heart failure at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she had been hospitalized for six weeks.
Taylor's four children, Michael and Christopher Wilding, Liza Todd and Maria Burton, were by her side at the end.
"My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor and love," Michael Wilding said in a statement. "We know, quite simply, that the world is a better place for mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade, her spirit will always be with us, and her love will live forever in our hearts."
The 'Cleopatra' star underwent heart surgery in 2009, and was hospitalized in February for heart failure.
In a recent Harper's Bazaar interview with super-fan Kim Kardashian, Taylor opened up about her many husbands, jewels and philanthropic work.
"I never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or a lot of husbands," Taylor told the 30-year-old Kardashian sister. "For me, life happened, just as it does for anyone else. I have been supremely lucky in my life in that I have known great love, and of course I am the temporary custodian of some incredible and beautiful things. But I have never felt more alive than when I watched my children delight in something, never more alive than when I have watched a great artist perform, and never richer than when I have scored a big check to fight AIDS."
Taylor made her on-screen debut at the age of nine in the film 'There's One Born Every Minute,' but she first came to national attention in the film 'Lassie Come Home' opposite lifelong friend Roddy McDowall. Her star-making role, however, came a few years later when a then-12-year-old Taylor took on the titular role of Velvet Brown in 1944's 'National Velvet' -- a film that in 2003 was selected for entry into the prestigious National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
After a string of successful films as a teenager, Taylor transitioned to adult roles with turns in hits like 'Father of the Bride' (1950) and George Stevens' 'A Place in the Sun' (1951), co-starring Montgomery Clift. Her well-reviewed turn in 'Place' established Taylor as an actress to be reckoned with and propelled her into more dramatic fair, including the 1956 epic 'Giant,' opposite James Dean and Rock Hudson, and 'Raintree County,' the 1957 film that earned her the first of five career Best Actress Oscar nominations.