In a recent interview Elizabeth Taylor explained how she had “never planned to acquire a lot of jewels or a lot husbands”. Nevertheless, her impressive collection of spouses will be how many remember the actress, whose death was announced recently. Yet despite this, it is her collection of “jewels” that will no doubt shape her legacy; for not only was she known for her elaborate collection of rare jewellery, which has been recently valued at $150 million, but Taylor also claimed the jewels of beauty, success and of course, talent.

With deep sapphire blue eyes and eyelashes to kill for, Elizabeth was destined for Hollywood.

Taylor’s roots lie in London, where she was born in 1932 and lived until the outbreak of the Second World War, which saw her whisked away to the safety of New York. With deep sapphire blue eyes and eyelashes to kill for, Elizabeth was destined for Hollywood. This dream would soon materialise, when at the tender age of ten she starred in her first motion picture, There’s One Born Every Minute.

From Lassie Come Home to The White Cliffs of Dover, the rising star moved from one production to the next as fast as she would later skip from husband to husband; bypassing the childhood she so longed to enjoy. It was this early meeting with the limelight that in adulthood drew her to fellow child star, Michael Jackson; a lifelong friend and confidante.

Taylor was the epitome of the classic Hollywood actress

The story of the sixty’s blockbuster, Cleopatra, best represents the two sides of Taylor: her success as a Hollywood starlet and her romantic private life. On signing a one-million dollar contract to star in this lavish production, Elizabeth became the highest paid actress on the Big Screen, with her past roles in classics such as A Place In The Sun already securing her a reputation as the “Goddess of the Golden Age”. Meanwhile, her love-life was creating a standing all of its own. Reality and fiction become intertwined when Elizabeth found her own Mark-Anthony on the set of Cleopatra, in the form of her on-screen lover, Richard Burton. This relationship would result in two (they in fact got married twice) of the eight marriages that Elizabeth would hold to her name.

Taylor was reportedly most proud of her performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, in which she sheds her glamorous image to play the shrewish wife of a second-rate college lecturer, played by Richard Burton. She won an Oscar for what was perhaps the finest performance of her career, and one that will continue to be cited as a reflection of her immeasurable talent.

Taylor’s life seemed to reflect that of an almost fictional goddess

In many ways, Elizabeth Taylor was the epitome of the classic Hollywood actress; from her roller-coaster romances to the impressive list of productions in which she starred. However, while fitting the cast of a Hollywood star, she also broke it. Her charity work with HIV/AIDS sufferers during a time when the subject was very much taboo showed her compassion, while her embracing of the social networking site, Twitter, illustrates a later step away from The Golden Age into the digital.

Taylor’s life may have seemed to reflect that of an almost fictional goddess, her screen presence and humble personality is what will endear her as one of Hollywood’s greatest legends.

Elizabeth Taylor | February 2, 1932 – March 23, 2011

 

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I'm currently a third year War Studies and History student at King's College London. I love film, travelling, politics, literature, music and sport.

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