Fans flock to Google for news of Elizabeth Taylor

The news of actress Elizabeth Taylor's death on March 23 had fans and admirers flocking to Google, causing the term to appear in first and second place among the site's top search terms over the past week. Other popular search terms include escapologist Houdini and global environmental event Earth Hour.


Elizabeth Taylor, born in 1932, was famous for her roles in classic films such as Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra and many others. The actress's turbulent private life, which included eight marriages, two to Richard Burton, was also the subject of much attention. In her later life  she often used her celebrity to promote her humanitarian work, in particular for AIDS charities.

The third most popular search term this week was for early 20th century escapologist Harry Houdini. The performer, who would have celebrated his 137th birthday on March 24, was the subject of a Google doodle, which when clicked on led to Houdini-related search results, most likely accounting for the breakout* level of searches for "Harry Houdini."

Environmental awareness campaign Earth Hour was the fifth most popular term over the last seven days. Earth Hour aims to raise awareness of climate change by encouraging people around the world to turn off their lights for one hour - this year on Saturday, March 26 - with monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and Sydney Opera house taking part.

The latest version of the Firefox internet browser, Firefox 4, released March 22, appeared in sixth position and most likely accounts for the term "Firefox" in tenth position as well. The internet browser was downloaded almost 8 million times within 24 hours of being launched.

Other popular terms of the week included American lottery "Mega Millions," 'F1,'  the abbreviated term for motorsport event Formula 1, and "La Sexta," a Spanish term meaning "the sixth" and referring to a TV channel of the same name.  

The search terms with the most significant growth worldwide in the last seven days as measured by Google Insights, recorded on March 28 at 9:30 AM GMT, are:

  1. elizabeth taylor (breakout*)
  2. elizabeth taylor death (breakout*)
  3. harry houdini (breakout*)
  4. liz taylor (breakout*) 
  5. earth hour (+1,200%)
  6. firefox 4 (+400%)
  7. mega millions (+170%)
  8. la sexta (+100%)
  9. f1 (+90%)
  10. firefox (+80%)

*Breakout defines a search term that has experienced a change in growth greater than 5,000 percent.


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