Liz Taylor files for eighth divorce

TIM CORNWELL

Los Angeles

Though it is 30 years since Liz Taylor starred in a hit film, the soap opera of her love life has the timeless vigour of Coronation Street. Citing "irreconcilable differences", the 63-year- old actress is filing for her eighth divorce, from her seventh husband.

Ms Taylor married a construction worker, Larry Fortensky, undeniably the least glamourous of her partners, in 1991.

"I always said I would get married one more time and with God's blessings, this is it, for ever," she said then.

It was a union with a man 20 years her junior whose usual job was driving a bulldozer. Ms Taylor introduced him to the world as an "employee of a large engine equipment company." It is his third divorce.

Elizabeth Taylor's acting career took off with Lassie Come Home in 1943. Other milestones were her roles in National Velvet, Giant with James Dean, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. She also sighed, fluttered and swooned through a host of lesser known films including Love is Better Than Ever (1951). But since the Oscar-winning Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she has reigned chiefly as a tabloid queen struggling with drugs, diets and, of course, husbands.

While she has taken time out to promote her own brand of perfume and has emerged as a serious Aids activist, Ms Taylor's marriages are part of her persona. The most celebrated was to Richard Burton, her co-star in Cleopatra, whom she married twice - once for 16 months, the second time for only eight. The other five husbands were the hotel heir Conrad "Nicky" Hilton, the actor Michael Wilding, the Broadway producer Mike Todd, the singer Eddie Fisher, and Senator John Warner.

The marriage to the down-to-earth Mr Fortensky broke the mould.

She met him at the Betty Ford Clinic in Rancho Mirage, where she was undergoing drug treatment, while he was admitted after a conviction for drunk driving. Sealed in an extravagant wedding spectacle at the ranch of her close friend the singer Michael Jackson, it lasted 40 months. Her lawyer, Neil Papiano, said the divorce would be amicable, after a trial separation last August.

"Both she and Larry have great affection for each other. It's just not working out and they felt it would be best to file at this time," he said. "They're still good friends and very fond of each other."

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