Saturday, April 5, 2014

Elizabeth Taylor: A Life in Pictures

Elizabeth Taylor, studio publicity photo circa 1942, public domain.

When I was a child I first saw Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011) in Cleopatra (1963). In my eyes, she was every bit a queen. By that time, she had starred in 33 films with some of Hollywood's biggest stars, such as Montgomery Clift; Dana Andrews; Peter Finch; Rock Hudson; Richard Burton, and James Dean. She is considered one of the last stars to come from the old Hollywood system, moving smoothly into a new era in film-making. Taylor had a difficult, painful life, but there is no denying, she lived life to the fullest. 

Elizabeth Taylor, publicity photo, 1945, public domain.

By 1945, Taylor was a star, proving her status in such great childrens' films as Lassie Come Home and National Velvet

In 1950, Taylor starred in the original Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracy. Trailer screenshot, public domain.

Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson, publicity photo from Giant, a grand production and epic film released in 1956, also starring James Dean. 

In 1957, Taylor posed for this intimate portrait with her third husband, Michael Todd, and Elizabeth Francis (Liza) Todd. One year later, Todd was flying near Grants, New Mexico when his overloaded plane crashed and all four passengers on board were killed. Taylor was devastated. Photo from the US Library of Congress Photographs and Prints Division.

Publicity poster from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). Public domain.

Elizabeth Taylor, Metro Goldwyn Mayer Publicity Photo, 1958, public domain. Yes, her eyes were naturally violet, and in my opinion, her most stunning feature. 

Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (1963). Trailer screenshot. 

The Cleopatra we see today is actually missing two hours. It was originally filmed as two-three hour films, but the producers cut it down to one four hour film. Considering inflation, Cleopatra is still one of the most expensive films ever made. It was originally $44 million. In contemporary dollars (if my math is correct) this would be over $300 million. Taylor's costumes cost $194,800 and one dress was 24-carat gold. Cleopatra was also considered Hollywood's greatest financial flop of all time. Although it was one of the highest grossing films of all time the expenses were overwhelming. Following a series of arguments, setbacks, and even a lawsuit brought by Taylor and her then husband Richard Burton against 20th Century Fox, Taylor's ultimate salary for this film was $7 million.  

Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, trailer screenshot for The Sandpiper (1965).

The Many Loves of Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times, twice to Richard Burton. She was first married to Conrad Hilton, Jr., of the Hilton Hotel family from May 6, 1950 until their divorce a year later in February 1, 1951. She then married actor and producer Michael Wilding on February 21, 1952. They had two children and divorced on January 30, 1957. On February 2, 1957, Taylor married businessman Michael Todd and they had a daughter, Liza. Todd died in a plane crash on March 22, 1958. 

In 1959 Taylor stole singer and actor Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds and their two children, Carrie and Todd Fisher, in a scandalous affair. Taylor and Fisher were married on May 12, 1959 and she began an affair with Richard Burton soon after, but Burton was unable to divorce his first wife. Taylor and Fisher finally divorced on March 6, 1964, and Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton started their infamous public relationship when they married a week later on March 15, 1964. They had one child together--Kate--before divorcing on June 26, 1974 then remarried on October 10, 1975 and divorced again a year later on August 1, 1976. It is speculated that they would have married again, but I find this doubtful as he married twice more to two different women before he died in 1984. 

Taylor then married John Warner, a government official with the Nixon administration. They married on December 4, 1976 and divorced on November 7, 1982. On October 6, 1991, Taylor, true to form, shocked the world by marrying Larry Fortensky, a construction worker who she met during addiction rehabilitation. They were divorced on October 31, 1996.   

Richard Burton, Lucille Ball and Elizabeth Taylor in a screenshot from Here's Lucy (1974).

Elizabeth Taylor in a USO show in 1986. Photo taken by a military employee, public domain.

Elizabeth Taylor in 1960. Publicity photo, public domain. May the queen finally rest in peace.


  1. The Great Late Liz-She was one of the most beautiful women ever. I remember seeing her picture in Life magazine and it said "shortly before turning 17..." I was astounded that she was only 16 and she looked gorgeous. She really loved life and she always stood up for the underdog

    1. I think that's why I was so obsessed with her as a child--when my modeling agent first saw me she said, "Oh my goodness you look just like a young Liz Taylor!" Of course she said that to every child who came into the agency, but after that I read everything I could on Elizabeth Taylor and watched all of her films. When I found out what she did with Eddie Fisher and Richard Burton I didn't like her quite as much after that--yes, I was a judgmental child--but her acting talent was amazing!

  2. Amazing lives those stars lived. Maybe they still do - maybe it's just Hollywood.

    Nice post :)

    Blogging from Alpha to Zulu in April

    1. Goodness, yes, and I just brushed over the gossip with this post! I first read her biography when I was a teenager, but I want to write a post on her, too. It would probably have to be a two-part post!


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