Screen icon Elizabeth Taylor dies

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Screen siren Dame Elizabeth Taylor, whose dazzling beauty and turbulent life made her one of the most famous stars in the world, has died at the age of 79.

She was hailed as "a Hollywood giant" and "the last of the great glamour stars" as friends and admirers paid tribute.



And the Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? actress was remembered for not only her movie work and her star quality but also her dedication to charity achievements, chiefly her Aids work.



She died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre in Los Angeles this morning from congestive heart failure.



Dame Elizabeth, who lived almost her entire life in the spotlight after finding fame as a child star, had been plagued by ill-health for many years and had been in hospital for six weeks with heart problems.



Her son, Michael Wilding - one of four children - said: "My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humour, and love.



"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."



Sir Elton John, a long-time friend, said: "We have just lost a Hollywood giant. More importantly, we have lost an incredible human being."



The Oscar-winning star was renowned for her tumultuous personal life, as well as her mesmerising performances.



She was married eight times - twice to the Welsh acting titan Richard Burton - and had a lengthy battle with substance abuse.



The smouldering screen star was also one of the world's leading sex symbols, at one time her fragile beauty was rivalled only by Marilyn Monroe. She went on to become a gay icon.



Fan George Michael said: "Elizabeth Taylor was the last of the Hollywood greats, and a fantastically charming woman.



"She was also the only person I've ever met that had violet eyes. They were genuinely violet. So beautiful."



Veteran film-maker Michael Winner said: "Elizabeth Taylor was the last of the great glamour stars. She was the longest-running soap opera in history, and represented all the allure and tragedy that attracts people to Hollywood."



Mike Nichols, who directed Burton and Dame Elizabeth in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, said: "She is singular and indelible on film and in our hearts."



Dame Elizabeth was born in Hampstead, north London, to American parents who took her back to the US when she was a child at the outbreak of the Second World War.



She first found major movie fame with Lassie Come Home in 1943 and by the following year she had appeared in one of her most famous roles, as Velvet Brown in National Velvet.



Dame Elizabeth later became the first to receive one million dollars for a film role, and her movie career spanned more than 50 productions, including her sultry role in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.



She was also noted for a lengthy and close friendship with the singer Michael Jackson, who died in June 2009.



He accompanied her to a gala tribute evening in her honour at London's Royal Albert Hall in 2000 and for many years onlookers speculated that the singer's repeated cosmetic surgery was to make him look like her.



Although her film work was long behind her - due to her frailty - she continued to remain in the public eye for her charitable work. She was a spokeswoman and fundraiser for many causes, most notably Aids research, and one of her three Oscars was to honour her humanitarian work.



There were continual health scares but she fought back time and again. Her first serious battle with illness flared up in 1961 - a near-fatal battle with pneumonia. Another followed in 1990, while a respiratory infection left her depleted in 1992.



Both hips were replaced within three years and she had a brain tumour removed in 1997.



Her congestive heart failure was diagnosed in 2004 and she revealed she needed surgery on Twitter in 2009.



For many years her public appearances had seen her using a wheelchair.



Dame Elizabeth's most celebrated relationship was with Burton, whom she met on the set of one of her defining movies, Cleopatra, when he played Mark Antony. Their romance captivated the world and she once declared: "If Richard and I divorce, I swear I will never marry anyone again. I love him insanely."



Divorce they did in 1974 after 10 years, and they remarried the following year, only to divorce once more in 1976.



They were reunited on stage in a 1982 touring production of Noel Coward's Private Lives and were close until Burton's death two years later.



Film critic and broadcaster Barry Norman had befriended her and said: "She was an extremely nice woman and wore her great fame very lightly. She certainly did not swagger about."



Others to speak highly of Dame Elizabeth included former chat host Larry King who said: "Elizabeth Taylor was a great friend, a great star and one gutsy woman. She was so special. You won't see the likes of her again."



Sir Michael Caine said: "She was a great human being."



Veteran actress Angela Lansbury - a contemporary of the star - said: "Elizabeth and I began our careers about the same time at MGM. Throughout her tumultuous life, she will be remembered for some unique and memorable work."

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

HR Manager (standalone) - London

Up to £40,000: Ashdown Group: Standalone HR Manager role for an SME business b...

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

Day In a Page

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor
She's dark, sarcastic, and bashes life in Nowheresville ... so how did Kacey Musgraves become country music's hottest new star?

Kacey Musgraves: Nashville's hottest new star

The singer has two Grammys for her first album under her belt and her celebrity fans include Willie Nelson, Ryan Adams and Katy Perry
American soldier-poet Brian Turner reveals the enduring turmoil that inspired his memoir

Soldier-poet Brian Turner on his new memoir

James Kidd meets the prize-winning writer, whose new memoir takes him back to the bloody battles he fought in Iraq
Aston Villa vs Hull match preview: Villa were not surprised that Ron Vlaar was a World Cup star

Villa were not surprised that Vlaar was a World Cup star

Andi Weimann reveals just how good his Dutch teammate really is
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef ekes out his holiday in Italy with divine, simple salads

Bill Granger's simple Italian salads

Our chef presents his own version of Italian dishes, taking in the flavours and produce that inspired him while he was in the country
The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

The Last Word: Tumbleweed through deserted stands and suites at Wembley

If supporters begin to close bank accounts, switch broadband suppliers or shun satellite sales, their voices will be heard. It’s time for revolution