FANTASTIC ELIZABETH TAYLOR SIGNED CONTRACT 17 YEARS OLD & SIGNED MOM MGM LOEWS
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FANTASTIC ELIZABETH TAYLOR SIGNED CONTRACT 17 YEARS OLD & SIGNED MOM MGM LOEWS:
ELIZABETH TAYLOR SIGNED 2 PAGE 8.5X11 INCH CONTRACT WHEN SHE WAS 17 YEARS OLD ALSO COSIGNED BY HER MOTHER.
CONTRACT IS DATED mARCH 2,1950 ON METRO GOLDWYN MAYER PICTURES LETTERHEAD. IT IS FOR HER APPEARANCE IN THEATRE GUILD OF THE AIR TO BROADCAST ON SUNDAY MARCH 12, 1950 AT 5:30 PM OVER KFI-NBC IN NEW YORK CITY.
AS WELL TO BE AAPPROVED... MGM STUDIOS, THE PRODUCERS OF "CONSPIRATOR" ALSO RETAKES FOR OUR PHOTOPLAY ENTITLED "FATHER OF THE BRIDE"
SIGNED BY THE VICE PRESIDENT OF LOEWS INCORPORATEDConspirator is a 1949 American-British film noir, suspense, espionage, and thriller film directed by Victor Saville and starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor. Based on the 1948 novel Conspirator by Humphrey Slater, the film is about a beautiful 18-year-old American woman who meets and falls in love with one of a British Guards, an officer who turns out to be a spy for the Soviet Union. After they are married, she discovers his true identity and forces him to choose between his marriage and his ideology. When his Soviet handlers order him to murder his young American wife, he is faced with the ultimate choice. The film was made for distribution by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
Father of the Bride is a 1950 American comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli, about a man trying to cope with preparations for his daughter's upcoming wedding. The film stars Spencer Tracy in the titular role, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Taylor, Billie Burke, and Leo G. Carroll. It was adapted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett from the 1949 novel by Edward Streeter. Father of the Bride was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role; Best Picture; and Best Writing, Screenplay.Conspirator is a 1949 American-British film noir, suspense, espionage, and thriller film directed by Victor Saville and starring Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor. Based on the 1948 novel Conspirator by Humphrey Slater, the film is about a beautiful 18-year-old American woman who meets and falls in love with one of a British Guards, an officer who turns out to be a spy for the Soviet Union. After they are married, she discovers his true identity and forces him to choose between his marriage and his ideology. When his Soviet handlers order him to murder his young American wife, he is faced with the ultimate choice. The film was made for distribution by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.
The film created some controversy over the age difference between Robert Taylor, who was in his late 30s, and Elizabeth Taylor, who was only 16 at the time of production. The producers were careful to cut mentions in the film of the British traitors during the Second World War, such as John Amery and Norman Baillie-Stewart, out of fear of litigation by their families. An indirect mention of Baillie-Stewart remained in the film, however, with him being referred to not by name but simply as "that fellow in the Tower". The plot of the film also bore some similarities to the later case of the Cambridge Spies, including Donald MacLean.Contents1 Plot2 Cast3 Reception4 References5 External linksPlot[icon] This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (June 2019)CastRobert Taylor as Major Michael CurraghElizabeth Taylor as Melinda GreytonRobert Flemyng as Captain Hugh LadholmeHarold Warrender as Colonel HammerbrookHonor Blackman as JoyceMarjorie Fielding as Aunt JessicaThora Hird as BroadersWilfrid Hyde-White as Lord PennistoneMarie Ney as Lady PennistoneJack Allen as RaglanHelen Haye as Lady WitheringhamCicely Paget-Bowman as Mrs. HammerbrookKarel Stepanek as RadekNicholas Bruce as AlekCyril Smith as Detective InspectorJanette Scott as Coupie, Aunt Jessica's grandchild (uncredited)ReceptionAccording to MGM records, the film earned $859,000 in the US and Canada and $732,000 overseas and resulted in a loss to the studio of $804,000.
Father of the Bride is a 1950 American comedy film directed by Vincente Minnelli, about a man trying to cope with preparations for his daughter's upcoming wedding. The film stars Spencer Tracy in the titular role, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor, Don Taylor, Billie Burke, and Leo G. Carroll. It was adapted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett from the 1949 novel by Edward Streeter. Father of the Bride was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role; Best Picture; and Best Writing, Screenplay.Contents1 Plot2 Cast3 Production4 Release and reception5 Sequels and adaptations6 Recognition7 Home media8 Notes9 External linksPlot
Stanley T. Banks (Tracy) and Kay Dunstan (Taylor) in the wedding scene
Joan Bennett in the film creditsFollowing the wedding of his daughter Kay (Elizabeth Taylor), Stanley T. Banks (Spencer Tracy), a successful suburban lawyer, recalls the day, three months earlier, when he first learned of Kay's engagement to Buckley Dunstan (Don Taylor). At the family dinner table, Kay's casual announcement that she is in love with Buckley and has accepted his proposal makes Stanley feel uneasy, but he soon comes to realize that his daughter has grown up and the wedding is inevitable. While Ellie (Joan Bennett), Kay's mother, immediately begins making preparations for the wedding, Stanley lies awake at night, fearing the worst for his daughter.
Stanley's misgivings about the marriage eventually make Ellie anxious, and she insists that Kay introduce them to Buckley's parents. Kay calls the tradition "old-fashioned rigamarole," but arranges the meeting nevertheless. Before the introduction, Stanley has a private conversation with Buckley, and is pleased to learn that the young man is the head of a small company and that he is capable of providing a comfortable life for Kay. The Bankses' first meeting with Doris and Herbert, Buckley's parents, gets off to an awkward start, and goes from bad to worse when Stanley drinks too much and falls asleep in the wealthy Dunstans' living room.
Following Kay and Buckley's engagement party, Stanley, who misses the entire party because he is in the kitchen mixing drinks, realizes that his plans for a small wedding have been swept aside and he will be expected to pay for an extravagant wedding "with all the trimmings." As costs for the June event spiral out of control, Stanley calculates that he can afford to accommodate no more than one hundred and fifty guests. The task of paring down the guest list proves too difficult, however, and Stanley reluctantly consents to a 250-person reception. To save costs, Stanley suggests to Kay that she and Buckley elope. Kay is at first shocked by the suggestion, then reconsiders, supports the idea, and conveys that to her mother. Ellie strongly disapproves of eloping which causes Stanley to express his disapproval too, making it appear the idea was originally Kay's.
The plans for a lavish wedding continue until the day that Buckley tells Kay that he wants to take her on a fishing trip in Nova Scotia for their honeymoon. Kay reacts to the announcement with shock and calls off the wedding, but she and Buckley soon reconcile, and the two families begin their wedding rehearsals. On the day of the wedding, chaos reigns at the Banks home as final preparations are made for the reception. The wedding ceremony brings both joy and sorrow to Stanley, as he realizes that his daughter is now a woman and no longer his child. During the reception, Stanley tries to find Kay so he can kiss the bride but only manages to see her leaving for her honeymoon. Ellie and Stanley survey the mess in their home and concur that the entire affair was a great success. Kay calls and tells her father she loves him and thanks her parents for everything.
CastSpencer Tracy as Stanley T. BanksJoan Bennett as Ellie BanksElizabeth Taylor as Kay BanksDon Taylor as Buckley DunstanBillie Burke as Doris DunstanMoroni Olsen as Herbert DunstanMarietta Canty as DelilahRuss Tamblyn as Tommy BanksTom Irish as Ben BanksPaul Harvey as Reverend GalsworthyLeo G. Carroll as Mr. MassoulaRichard Alexander as Moving Man (uncredited)Fay Baker as Miss Bellamy - Stanley's Secretary (uncredited)Larry Steers as Wedding Guest (uncredited)Cast notes
Spencer Tracy wanted Katharine Hepburn for his screen wife, but it was felt that they were too romantic a team to play a happily domesticated couple with children, so Joan Bennett, who had previously co-starred with Tracy in She Wanted a Millionaire and Me and My Gal, got the part.ProductionAccording to Frank Miller for TCM, when creating the role for the father, the character was shaped around Spencer Tracy. Minnelli believed Tracy was capable of handling a role that balanced humor with fatherly tenderness. After some miscommunication with the producers, Jack Benny was brought in for a reading. He was too comedic and couldn’t handle the dramatic aspects of the film. When Tracy heard another actor was being tested, he turned down the movie. Minnelli asked Katharine Hepburn to invite Tracy to a dinner party where he later convinced Tracy to join the production.
Release and receptionThe film premiered on May 18, 1950 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The premiere of Father of the Bride took place two days after Elizabeth Taylor's real-life marriage — her first — to Nicky Hilton, an event that MGM exploited in its publicity campaign for the picture. Helen Rose, who designed Taylor's gown for the film, also designed the gown for her wedding to Nicky Hilton. Taylor went on to marry seven more times.
Reviews from critics were generally positive. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times called the film "equally wonderful" when compared to the book, with "all the warmth and poignancy and understanding that makes the Streeter treatise much beloved." Of Tracy's performance Crowther wrote, "As a father, torn by jealousy, devotion, pride and righteous wrath, Mr. Tracy is tops." Variety called it "the second strong comedy in a row for Spencer Tracy," with "plenty to enjoy during the speedy 92 minutes." Harrison's Reports wrote, "Crammed with laughs, it is a mirthful, warmly appealing entertainment that is sure to be a crowd pleaser." Richard L. Coe of The Washington Post called it "a cheerful package of smiles and laughter. You'll enjoy it." John McCarten of The New Yorker was more dismissive of the film, calling the jokes "rather wheezy, and they certainly don't do much to speed up the picture. Since the plot consists simply of outlining the difficulties of putting on a wedding, including, of course, the damnable expense of it all, it grows a little tiresome after a half hour or so."
The film was one of the top-grossing films of the year, earning $4,036,000 in the US and Canada and $2,048,000 overseas, making MGM a profit of $2,936,000. It did so well that MGM registered the title Now I'm a Grandfather and negotiated rights for a sequel with Streeter.
Sequels and adaptationsPleased with the commercial and critical success of Father of the Bride, MGM rushed a sequel into production the following year, called Father's Little Dividend, in which Taylor's character has a baby. It did almost as well as the original film and was also made into a television series which aired on CBS during the 1961-62 season and featured Leon Ames (Stan), Ruth Warrick (Ellie), and Myrna Fahey (Kay).
A remake by the same name, starring Steve Martin, Diane Keaton and Kimberly Williams as the bride, was released in 1991. It had a numeraled sequel, Father of the Bride Part II, in 1995, with the same cast. As in the original's sequel, the bride gives birth to her first child, also a son. The film was also remade in Tamil as Abhiyum Naanum.
In February 2018, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that remakes of several films are in development as exclusive content for Walt Disney Studios' Disney+. One of those projects named in the announcement is Father of the Bride.
On September 24, 2020, Warner Bros. announced their plans for a remake starring a Hispanic family, with the script being penned by Matt Lopez.
RecognitionThe film was featured in Peter Bogdanovich's 1971 picture The Last Picture Show; it is being viewed in the cinema in the film.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
2000: AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs – #83Home mediaThe original negative was destroyed in a fire[where?] in 1978, and all home media released have been sourced from a fine grain master positive. The film was released on DVD in June 2004. It was given an extensive digital restoration and released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive Collection in May 2016.
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor DBE (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) was an English-American actress, businesswoman, and humanitarian. She began her career as a child actress in the early 1940s and was one of the most popular stars of classical Hollywood cinema in the 1950s. She continued her career successfully into the 1960s, remaining a well-known public figure for the rest of her life. In 1999, the American Film Institute named her the seventh-greatest female screen legend of Classic Hollywood cinema.
Born in London to socially prominent American parents, Taylor moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1939. She made her acting debut with a minor role in the Universal Pictures film There's One Born Every Minute (1942), but the studio ended her contract after a year. She was then signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and became a popular teen star after appearing in National Velvet (1944). She transitioned to mature roles in the 1950s, when she starred in the comedy Father of the Bride (1950) and received critical acclaim for her performance in the drama A Place in the Sun (1951).
Despite being one of MGM's most bankable stars, Taylor wished to end her career in the early 1950s. She resented the studio's control and disliked many of the films to which she was assigned. She began receiving more enjoyable roles in the mid-1950s, beginning with the epic drama Giant (1956), and starred in several critically and commercially successful films in the following years. These included two film adaptations of plays by Tennessee Williams: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959); Taylor won a Golden Globe for Best Actress for the latter. Although she disliked her role as a call girl in BUtterfield 8 (1960), her last film for MGM, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.
During the production of the film Cleopatra in 1961, Taylor and co-star Richard Burton began an extramarital affair, which caused a scandal. Despite public disapproval, they continued their relationship and were married in 1964. Dubbed "Liz and Dick" by the media, they starred in 11 films together, including The V.I.P.s (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), The Taming of the Shrew (1967), and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Taylor received the best reviews of her career for Woolf, winning her second Academy Award and several other awards for her performance. She and Burton divorced in 1974, but reconciled soon after, and remarried in 1975. The second marriage ended in divorce in 1976.
Taylor's acting career began to decline in the late 1960s, although she continued starring in films until the mid-1970s, after which she focused on supporting the career of her sixth husband, United States Senator John Warner (R-Virginia). In the 1980s, she acted in her first substantial stage roles and in several television films and series. She became the second celebrity to launch a perfume brand, after Sophia Loren. Taylor was one of the first celebrities to take part in HIV/AIDS activism. She co-founded the American Foundation for AIDS Research in 1985 and the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991. From the early 1990s until her death, she dedicated her time to philanthropy, for which she received several accolades, including the Presidential Citizens Medal.
Throughout her career, Taylor's personal life was the subject of constant media attention. She was married eight times to seven men, converted to Judaism, endured several serious illnesses, and led a jet set lifestyle, including assembling one of the most expensive private collections of jewelry in the world. After many years of ill health, Taylor died from congestive heart failure in 2011, at the age of 79.Contents1 Early life2 Acting career2.1 Early roles and teenage stardom (1941–1949)2.2 Transition to adult roles (1950–1951)2.3 Continued success at MGM (1952–1955)2.4 Critical acclaim (1956–1960)2.5 Cleopatra and other films with Richard Burton (1961–1967)2.6 Career decline (1968–1979)2.7 Stage and television roles; retirement (1980–2007)3 Filmography and awards4 Other ventures4.1 HIV/AIDS activism4.2 Fragrance and jewelry brands5 Personal life5.1 Marriages, relationships, and children5.2 Support for Jewish and Zionist causes5.3 Style and jewelry collection5.4 Los Angeles residence5.5 Health problems and death6 Legacy7 Notes8 References9 Sources10 External linksEarly life
Fifteen-year-old Taylor with her parents at the Stork Club in Manhattan, 1947Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932, at Heathwood, her family's home on 8 Wildwood Road in Hampstead Garden Suburb, London.:3–10 She received dual British-American citizenship at birth, as her parents, art dealer Francis Lenn Taylor (1897–1968) and retired stage actress Sara Sothern (née Sara Viola Warmbrodt, 1895–1994), were United States citizens, both originally from Arkansas City, Kansas.:3–10[a]Elizabeth Taylor in 1945They moved to London in 1929 and opened an art gallery on Bond Street; their first child, a son named Howard, was born the same year.:61:3–11
The family lived in London during Taylor's childhood.:11–19 Their social circle included artists such as Augustus John and Laura Knight, and politicians such as Colonel Victor Cazalet.:11–19 Cazalet was Taylor's unofficial godfather, and an important influence in her early life.:11–19 She was enrolled in Byron House, a Montessori school in Highgate, and was raised according to the teachings of Christian Science, the religion of her mother and Cazalet.:3,11–19,20–23
In early 1939, the Taylors decided to return to the United States due to fear of impending war in Europe.:22–26 United States ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy contacted her father, urging him to return to the US with his family. Sara and the children left first in April 1939 aboard the ocean liner SS Manhattan, and moved in with Taylor's maternal grandfather in Pasadena, California.:22–28 Francis stayed behind to close the London gallery, and joined them in December.:22–28 In early 1940, he opened a new gallery in Los Angeles. After briefly living in Pacific Palisades with the Chapman family, the Taylor family settled in Beverly Hills, where the two children were enrolled in Hawthorne School.:27–34
Acting careerEarly roles and teenage stardom (1941–1949)In California, Taylor's mother was frequently told that her daughter should audition for films.:27–30 Taylor's eyes in particular drew attention; they were blue, to the extent of appearing violet, and were rimmed by dark double eyelashes caused by a genetic mutation.:9 Sara was initially opposed to Taylor appearing in films, but after the outbreak of war in Europe made return there unlikely, she began to view the film industry as a way of assimilating to American society.:27–30 Francis Taylor's Beverly Hills gallery had gained clients from the film industry soon after opening, helped by the endorsement of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, a friend of the Cazalets.:27–31 Through a client and a school friend's father, Taylor auditioned for both Universal Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in early 1941.:27–37 Both studios offered Taylor contracts, and Sara Taylor chose to accept Universal's offer.:27–37
Taylor began her contract in April 1941 and was cast in a small role in There's One Born Every Minute (1942).:27–37 She did not receive other roles, and her contract was terminated after a year.:27–37 Universal's casting director explained her dislike of Taylor, stating that "the kid has nothing ... her eyes are too old, she doesn't have the face of a child".:27–37 Biographer Alexander Walker agrees that Taylor looked different from the child stars of the era, such as Shirley Temple and Judy Garland.:32 Taylor later said that, "apparently, I used to frighten grown ups, because I was totally direct".
Taylor received another opportunity in late 1942, when her father's acquaintance, MGM producer Samuel Marx, arranged for her to audition for a minor role in Lassie Come Home (1943), which required a child actress with an English accent .:22–23,27–37 After a trial contract of three months, she was given a standard seven-year contract in January 1943.:38–41 Following Lassie, she appeared in minor uncredited roles in two other films set in England – Jane Eyre (1943), and The White Cliffs of Dover (1944).:38–41Mickey Rooney and Taylor in National Velvet (1944), her first major film roleTaylor was cast in her first starring role at the age of 12, when she was chosen to play a girl who wants to compete as a jockey in the exclusively male Grand National in National Velvet.:40–47 She later called it "the most exciting film" of her career. MGM had been looking for a suitable actress with a British accent and the ability to ride horses since 1937, and chose Taylor at the recommendation of White Cliffs director Clarence Brown, who knew she had the required skills.:40–47
As she was deemed too short, filming was pushed back several months to allow her to grow; she spent the time practicing riding.:40–47 In developing her into a new star, MGM required her to wear braces to correct her teeth, and had two of her baby teeth pulled out.:40–47 The studio also wanted to dye her hair and change the shape of her eyebrows, and proposed that she use the screen name "Virginia", but Taylor and her parents refused.
National Velvet became a box-office success upon its release on Christmas 1944.:40–47 Bosley Crowther of The New York Times stated that "her whole manner in this picture is one of refreshing grace", while James Agee of The Nation wrote that she "is rapturously beautiful... I hardly know or care whether she can act or not."
Taylor later stated that her childhood ended when she became a star, as MGM started to control every aspect of her life.:48–51 She described the studio as a "big extended factory", where she was required to adhere to a strict daily schedule: days were spent attending school and filming at the studio lot, and evenings in dancing and singing classes, and in practising the following day's scenes.:48–51 Following the success of National Velvet, MGM gave Taylor a new seven-year contract with a weekly salary of $750, and cast her in a minor role in the third film of the Lassie series, Courage of Lassie (1946).:51–58 The studio also published a book of Taylor's writings about her pet chipmunk, Nibbles and Me (1946), and had paper dolls and coloring books made after her.:51–58Publicity photograph, circa 1947When Taylor turned 15 in 1947, MGM began to cultivate a more mature public image for her by organizing photo shoots and interviews that portrayed her as a "normal" teenager attending parties and going on dates.:56–57; 65–74 Film magazines and gossip columnists also began comparing her to older actresses such as Ava Gardner and Lana Turner.:71 Life called her "Hollywood's most accomplished junior actress" for her two film roles that year.:69 In the critically panned Cynthia (1947), Taylor portrayed a frail girl who defies her over-protective parents to go to the prom; in the period film Life with Father (1947), opposite William Powell and Irene Dunne, she portrayed the love interest of a stockbroker's son.:58–70
They were followed by supporting roles as a teenaged "man-stealer" who seduces her peer's date to a high school dance in the musical A Date with Judy (1948), and as a bride in the romantic comedy Julia Misbehaves (1948). This became a commercial success, grossing over $4 million in the box office.:82 Taylor's last adolescent role was as Amy March in Mervyn LeRoy's Little Women (1949). While this version did not match the popularity of the previous 1933 film adaptation of Louisa M. Alcott's novel, it was a box-office success. The same year, Time featured Taylor on its cover, and called her the leader among Hollywood's next generation of stars, "a jewel of great price, a true sapphire".
Transition to adult roles (1950–1951)Taylor made the transition to adult roles when she turned 18 in 1950. In her first mature role, the thriller Conspirator (1949), she plays a woman who begins to suspect that her husband is a Soviet spy.:75–83 Taylor had been only 16 at the time of its filming, but its release was delayed until March 1950, as MGM disliked it and feared it could cause diplomatic problems.:75–83 Taylor's second film of 1950 was the comedy The Big Hangover (1950), co-starring Van Johnson. It was released in May. That same month, Taylor married hotel-chain heir Conrad Hilton Jr. in a highly publicized ceremony.:99–105 The event was organized by MGM, and used as part of the publicity campaign for Taylor's next film, Vincente Minnelli's comedy Father of the Bride (1950), in which she appeared opposite Spencer Tracy and Joan Bennett as a bride preparing for her wedding.:99–105 The film became a box-office success upon its release in June, grossing $6 million worldwide, and was followed by a successful sequel, Father's Little Dividend (1951), ten months later.Elizabeth TaylorTaylor's next film release, George Stevens' A Place in the Sun (1951), marked a departure from her earlier films. According to Taylor, it was the first film in which she had been asked to act, instead of simply being herself, and it brought her critical acclaim for the first time since National Velvet.:96–97 Based on Theodore Dreiser's novel An American Tragedy (1925), it featured Taylor as a spoiled socialite who comes between a poor factory worker (Montgomery Clift) and his pregnant girlfriend (Shelley Winters).:91 Stevens cast Taylor as she was "the only one ... who could create this illusion" of being "not so much a real girl as the girl on the candy-box cover, the beautiful girl in the yellow Cadillac convertible that every American boy sometime or other thinks he can marry".:92
A Place in the Sun was a critical and commercial success, grossing $3 million. Herb Golden of Variety said that Taylor's "histrionics are of a quality so far beyond anything she has done previously, that Stevens' skilled hands on the reins must be credited with a minor miracle." A.H. Weiler of The New York Times wrote that she gives "a shaded, tender performance, and one in which her passionate and genuine romance avoids the pathos common to young love as it sometimes comes to the screen".
Continued success at MGM (1952–1955)Taylor next starred in the romantic comedy Love Is Better Than Ever (1952).:124–125 According to Alexander Walker, MGM cast her in the "B-picture" as a reprimand for divorcing Hilton in January 1951 after only nine months of marriage, which had caused a public scandal that reflected negatively on her.:124–125 After completing Love Is Better Than Ever, Taylor was sent to Britain to take part in the historical epic Ivanhoe (1952), which was one of the most expensive projects in the studio's history.:129–132 She was not happy about the project, finding the story superficial and her role as Rebecca too small.:129–132 Regardless, Ivanhoe became one of MGM's biggest commercial successes, earning $11 million in worldwide rentals.
Taylor's last film made under her old contract with MGM was The Girl Who Had Everything (1953), a remake of the pre-code drama A Free Soul (1931).:145 Despite her grievances with the studio, Taylor signed a new seven-year contract with MGM in the summer of 1952.:139–143 Although she wanted more interesting roles, the decisive factor in continuing with the studio was her financial need; she had recently married British actor Michael Wilding, and was pregnant with her first child.:139–143 In addition to granting her a weekly salary of $4,700, MGM agreed to give the couple a loan for a house, and signed her husband for a three-year contract.:141–143 Due to her financial dependency, the studio now had even more control over her than previously.:141–143Van Johnson and Taylor in the romantic drama The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954)Taylor's first two films made under her new contract were released ten days apart in early 1954.:153 The first was Rhapsody, a romantic film starring her as a woman caught in a love triangle with two musicians. The second was Elephant Walk, a drama in which she played a British woman struggling to adapt to life on her husband's tea plantation in Ceylon. She had been loaned to Paramount Pictures for the film after its original star, Vivien Leigh, fell ill.:148–149
In the fall, Taylor starred in two more film releases. Beau Brummell was a Regency era period film, another project in which she was cast against her will.:153–154 Taylor disliked historical films in general, as their elaborate costumes and make-up required her to wake up earlier than usual to prepare. She later said that she gave one of the worst performances of her career in Beau Brummell.:153–154 The second film was Richard Brooks' The Last Time I Saw Paris, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's short story. Although she had wanted to be cast in The Barefoot Contessa (1954) instead, Taylor liked the film, and later stated that it "convinced me I wanted to be an actress instead of yawning my way through parts".:153–157 While The Last Time I Saw Paris was not as profitable as many other MGM films, it garnered positive reviews.:153–157 Taylor became pregnant again during the production, and had to agree to add another year to her contract to make up for the period spent on maternity leave.:153–157
Critical acclaim (1956–1960)
Taylor and Rock Hudson in Giant (1956)By the mid-1950s, the American film industry was beginning to face serious competition from television, which resulted in studios producing fewer films, and focusing instead on their quality.:158–165 The change benefited Taylor, who finally found more challenging roles after several years of career disappointments.:158–165 After lobbying director George Stevens, she won the female lead role in Giant (1956), an epic drama about a ranching dynasty, which co-starred Rock Hudson and James Dean.:158–165 Its filming in Marfa, Texas, was a difficult experience for Taylor, as she clashed with Stevens, who wanted to break her will to make her easier to direct, and was often ill, resulting in delays.:158–165 To further complicate the production, Dean died in a car accident only days after completing filming; grieving Taylor still had to film reaction shots to their joint scenes.:158–166 When Giant was released a year later, it became a box-office success, and was widely praised by critics.:158–165 Although not nominated for an Academy Award like her co-stars, Taylor garnered positive reviews for her performance, with Variety calling it "surprisingly clever", and The Manchester Guardian lauding her acting as "an astonishing revelation of unsuspected gifts". It named her one of the film's strongest assets.
MGM re-united Taylor with Montgomery Clift in Raintree County (1957), a Civil War drama which it hoped would replicate the success of Gone with the Wind (1939).:166–177 Taylor found her role as a mentally disturbed Southern belle fascinating, but overall disliked the film.:166–177 Although the film failed to become the type of success MGM had planned, Taylor was nominated for the first time for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.Promotional poster for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)Taylor considered her next performance as Maggie the Cat in the screen adaptation of the Tennessee Williams play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) a career "high point." But it coincided with one of the most difficult periods in her personal life. After completing Raintree Country, she had divorced Wilding and married producer Mike Todd. She had completed only two weeks of filming in March 1958, when Todd was killed in a plane crash.:186–194 Although she was devastated, pressure from the studio and the knowledge that Todd had large debts led Taylor to return to work only three weeks later.:195–203 She later said that "in a way ... [she] became Maggie", and that acting "was the only time I could function" in the weeks after Todd's death.
During the production, Taylor's personal life drew more attention when she began an affair with singer Eddie Fisher, whose marriage to actress Debbie Reynolds had been idealized by the media as the union of "America's sweethearts".:203–210 The affair – and Fisher's subsequent divorce – changed Taylor's public image from a grieving widow to a "homewrecker". MGM used the scandal to its advantage by featuring an image of Taylor posing on a bed in a slip in the film's promotional posters.:203–210 Cat grossed $10 million in American cinemas alone, and made Taylor the year's second-most profitable star.:203–210 She received positive reviews for her performance, with Bosley Crowther of The New York Times calling her "terrific", and Variety praising her for "a well-accented, perceptive interpretation". Taylor was nominated for an Academy Award and a BAFTA.Promotional poster for BUtterfield 8, for which Taylor won her first Academy AwardTaylor's next film, Joseph L. Mankiewicz' Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), was another Tennessee Williams adaptation, and co-starred Montgomery Clift and Katharine Hepburn. The independent production earned Taylor $500,000 for playing the role of a severely traumatized patient in a mental institution.:203–210 Although the film was a drama about mental illness, childhood traumas, and homosexuality, it was again promoted with Taylor's sex appeal; both its trailer and poster featured her in a white swimsuit. The strategy worked, as the film was a financial success. Taylor received her third Academy Award nomination and her first Golden Globe for Best Actress for her performance.:203–210
By 1959, Taylor owed one more film for MGM, which it decided should be BUtterfield 8 (1960), a drama about a high-class sex worker, in an adaptation of a John O'Hara 1935 novel of the same name.:211–223 The studio correctly calculated that Taylor's public image would make it easy for audiences to associate her with the role.:211–223 She hated the film for the same reason, but had no choice in the matter, although the studio agreed to her demands of filming in New York and casting Eddie Fisher in a sympathetic role.:211–223 As predicted, BUtterfield 8 was a major commercial success, grossing $18 million in world rentals.:224–236 Crowther wrote that Taylor "looks like a million dollars, in mink or in negligée", while Variety stated that she gives "a torrid, stinging portrayal with one or two brilliantly executed passages within". Taylor won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance.:224–236
Cleopatra and other films with Richard Burton (1961–1967)
Richard Burton as Mark Antony with Taylor as Cleopatra in Cleopatra (1963)After completing her MGM contract, Taylor starred in 20th Century-Fox's Cleopatra (1963). According to film historian Alexander Doty, this historical epic made her more famous than ever before. She became the first actress to be paid $1 million for a role; Fox also granted her 10% of the film's profits, as well as shooting the film in Todd-AO, a widescreen format for which she had inherited the rights from Mike Todd.:10–11:211–223 The film's production – characterized by costly sets and costumes, constant delays, and a scandal caused by Taylor's extramarital affair with her co-star Richard Burton – was closely followed by the media, with Life proclaiming it the "Most Talked About Movie Ever Made".:11–12,39,45–46, 56 Filming began in England in 1960, but had to be halted several times because of bad weather and Taylor's ill health.:12–13 In March 1961, she developed nearly fatal pneumonia, which necessitated a tracheotomy; one news agency erroneously reported that she had died.:12–13 Once she had recovered, Fox discarded the already filmed material, and moved the production to Rome, changing its director to Joseph Mankiewicz, and the actor playing Mark Antony to Burton.:12–18 Filming was finally completed in July 1962.:39 The film's final cost was $62 million, making it the most expensive film made up to that point.:46
Cleopatra became the biggest box-office success of 1963 in the United States; the film grossed $15.7 million at the box office.:56–57 Regardless, it took several years for the film to earn back its production costs, which drove Fox near to bankruptcy. The studio publicly blamed Taylor for the production's troubles and unsuccessfully sued Burton and Taylor for allegedly damaging the film's commercial prospects with their behavior.:46 The film's reviews were mixed to negative, with critics finding Taylor overweight and her voice too thin, and unfavorably comparing her with her classically trained British co-stars.:56–58:265–267 In retrospect, Taylor called Cleopatra a "low point" in her career, and said that the studio had cut out the scenes which provided the "core of the characterization".
Taylor intended to follow Cleopatra by headlining an all-star cast in Fox's black comedy What a Way to Go! (1964), but negotiations fell through, and Shirley MacLaine was cast instead. In the meantime, film producers were eager to profit from the scandal surrounding Taylor and Burton, and they next starred together in Anthony Asquith's The V.I.P.s (1963), which mirrored the headlines about them.:42–45:252–255,260–266 Taylor played a famous model attempting to leave her husband for a lover, and Burton her estranged millionaire husband. Released soon after Cleopatra, it became a box-office success.:264 Taylor was also paid $500,000 to appear in a CBS television special, Elizabeth Taylor in London, in which she visited the city's landmarks and recited passages from the works of famous British writers.:74–75Taylor and Burton in The Sandpiper (1965)After completing The V.I.P.s, Taylor took a two-year hiatus from films, during which Burton and she divorced their spouses and married each other.:112 The supercouple continued starring together in films in the mid-1960s, earning a combined $88 million over the next decade; Burton once stated, "They say we generate more business activity than one of the smaller African nations.":193 Biographer Alexander Walker compared these films to "illustrated gossip columns", as their film roles often reflected their public personae, while film historian Alexander Doty has noted that the majority of Taylor's films during this period seemed to "conform to, and reinforce, the image of an indulgent, raucous, immoral or amoral, and appetitive (in many senses of the word) 'Elizabeth Taylor'".:294 Taylor and Burton's first joint project following her hiatus was Vincente Minelli's romantic drama The Sandpiper (1965), about an illicit love affair between a bohemian artist and a married clergyman in Big Sur, California. Its reviews were largely negative, but it grossed a successful $14 million in the box office.:116–118
Their next project, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), an adaptation of a play of the same name by Edward Albee, featured the most critically acclaimed performance of Taylor's career.:142,151–152:286 She and Burton starred as Martha and George, a middle-aged couple going through a marital crisis. In order to convincingly play 50-year-old Martha, Taylor gained weight, wore a wig, and used make-up to make herself look older and tired – in stark contrast to her public image as a glamorous film star.:136–137:281–282 At Taylor's suggestion, theater director Mike Nichols was hired to direct the project, despite his lack of experience with film.:139–140 The production differed from anything she had done previously, as Nichols wanted to thoroughly rehearse the play before beginning filming.:141 Woolf was considered ground-breaking for its adult themes and uncensored language, and opened to "glorious" reviews.:140,151 Variety wrote that Taylor's "characterization is at once sensual, spiteful, cynical, pitiable, loathsome, lustful, and tender." Stanley Kauffmann of The New York Times stated that she "does the best work of her career, sustained and urgent". The film also became one of the biggest commercial successes of the year.:151–152:286 Taylor received her second Academy Award, and BAFTA, National Board of Review, and New York City Film Critics Circle awards for her performance.
In 1966, Taylor and Burton performed Doctor Faustus for a week in Oxford to benefit the Oxford University Dramatic Society; he starred and she appeared in her first stage role as Helen of Troy, a part which required no speaking.:186–189 Although it received generally negative reviews, Burton produced it as a film, Doctor Faustus (1967), with the same cast.:186–189 It was also panned by critics and grossed only $600,000 in the box office.:230–232 Taylor and Burton's next project, Franco Zeffirelli's The Taming of the Shrew (1967), which they also co-produced, was more successful.:164 It posed another challenge for Taylor, as she was the only actor in the project with no previous experience of performing Shakespeare; Zeffirelli later stated that this made her performance interesting, as she "invented the part from scratch".:168 Critics found the play to be fitting material for the couple, and the film became a box-office success by grossing $12 million.:181, 186
Taylor's third film released in 1967, John Huston's Reflections in a Golden Eye, was her first without Burton since Cleopatra. Based on a novel of the same name by Carson McCullers, it was a drama about a repressed gay military officer and his unfaithful wife. It was originally slated to co-star Taylor's old friend Montgomery Clift, whose career had been in decline for several years owing to his substance abuse problems. Determined to secure his involvement in the project, Taylor even offered to pay for his insurance.:157–161 But Clift died from a heart attack before filming began; he was replaced in the role by Marlon Brando.:175,189 Reflections was a critical and commercial failure at the time of its release.:233–234 Taylor and Burton's last film of the year was the adaptation of Graham Greene's novel, The Comedians, which received mixed reviews and was a box-office disappointment.:228–232
Career decline (1968–1979)
Taylor in 1971Taylor's career was in decline by the late 1960s. She had gained weight, was nearing middle age, and did not fit in with New Hollywood stars such as Jane Fonda and Julie After several years of nearly constant media attention, the public was tiring of Burton and her, and criticized their jet set lifestyle.:142, 151–152:294–296,305–306 In 1968, Taylor starred in two films directed by Joseph Losey – Boom! and Secret Ceremony – both of which were critical and commercial failures.:238–246 The former, based on Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, features her as an aging, serial-marrying millionaire, and Burton as a younger man who turns up on the Mediterranean island on which she has retired.:211–217 Secret Ceremony is a psychological drama which also stars Mia Farrow and Robert Mitchum.:242–243, 246 Taylor's third film with George Stevens, The Only Game in Town (1970), in which she played a Las Vegas showgirl who has an affair with a compulsive gambler, played by Warren Beatty, was unsuccessful.:287
The three films in which Taylor acted in 1972 were somewhat more successful. Zee and Co., which portrayed Michael Caine and her as a troubled married couple, won her the David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actress. She appeared with Burton in the adaptation of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood; although her role was small, the producers decided to give her top-billing to profit from her fame.:313–316 Her third film role that year was playing a blonde diner waitress in Peter Ustinov's Faust parody Hammersmith Is Out, her tenth collaboration with Burton. Although it was overall not successful,:316 Taylor received some good reviews, with Vincent Canby of The New York Times writing that she has "a certain vulgar, ratty charm", and Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times saying, "The spectacle of Elizabeth Taylor growing older and more beautiful continues to amaze the population". Her performance won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival.In Divorce His, Divorce Hers (1973), Taylor's last film with BurtonTaylor and Burton's last film together was the Harlech Television film Divorce His, Divorce Hers (1973), fittingly named as they divorced the following year.:357 Her other films released in 1973 were the British thriller Night Watch (1973) and the American drama Ash Wednesday (1973).:341–349,357–358 For the latter, in which she starred as a woman who undergoes multiple plastic surgeries in an attempt to save her marriage, she received a Golden Globe nomination. Her only film released in 1974, the Italian Muriel Spark adaptation The Driver's Seat (1974), was a failure.:371–375
Taylor took fewer roles after the mid-1970s, and focused on supporting the career of her sixth husband, Republican politician John Warner, a US senator. In 1976, she participated in the Soviet-American fantasy film The Blue Bird (1976), a critical and box-office failure, and had a small role in the television film Victory at Entebbe (1976). In 1977, she sang in the critically panned film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical A Little Night Music (1977).:388–389,403
Stage and television roles; retirement (1980–2007)
Taylor in 1981 at an event honoring her careerAfter a period of semi-retirement from films, Taylor starred in The Mirror Crack'd (1980), adapted from an Agatha Christie mystery novel and featuring an ensemble cast of actors from the studio era, such as Angela Lansbury, Kim Novak, Rock Hudson, and Tony Curtis.:435 Wanting to challenge herself, she took on her first substantial stage role, playing Regina Giddens in a Broadway production of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes.:411:347–362 Instead of portraying Giddens in negative light, as had often been the case in previous productions, Taylor's idea was to show her as a victim of circumstance, explaining, "She's a killer, but she's saying, 'Sorry fellas, you put me in this position'".:349
The production premiered in May 1981, and had a sold-out six-month run despite mixed reviews.:411:347–362 Frank Rich of The New York Times wrote that Taylor's performance as "Regina Giddens, that malignant Southern bitch-goddess ... begins gingerly, soon gathers steam, and then explodes into a black and thunderous storm that may just knock you out of your seat", while Dan Sullivan of the Los Angeles Times stated, "Taylor presents a possible Regina Giddens, as seen through the persona of Elizabeth Taylor. There's some acting in it, as well as some personal display." She appeared as evil socialite Helena Cassadine in the day-time soap opera General Hospital in November 1981.:347–362 The following year, she continued performing The Little Foxes in London's West End, but received largely negative reviews from the British press.:347–362
Encouraged by the success of The Little Foxes, Taylor and producer Zev Buffman founded the Elizabeth Taylor Repertory Company.:347–362 Its first and only production was a revival of Noël Coward's comedy Private Lives, starring Taylor and Burton.:413–425:347–362 It premiered in Boston in early 1983, and although commercially successful, received generally negative reviews, with critics noting that both stars were in noticeably poor health – Taylor admitted herself to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center after the play's run ended, and Burton died the following year.:413–425:347–362 After the failure of Private Lives, Taylor dissolved her theater company. Her only other project that year was television film Between Friends.
From the mid-1980s, Taylor acted mostly in television productions. She made cameos in the soap operas Hotel and All My Children in 1984, and played a brothel keeper in the historical mini-series North and South in 1985.:363–373 She also starred in several television films, playing gossip columnist Louella Parsons in Malice in Wonderland (1985), a "fading movie star" in the drama There Must Be a Pony (1986), and a character based on Poker Alice in the eponymous Western (1987).:363–373 She re-united with director Franco Zeffirelli to appear in his French-Italian biopic Young Toscanini (1988), and had the last starring role of her career in a television adaptation of Sweet Bird of Youth (1989), her fourth Tennessee Williams play.:363–373 During this time, she also began receiving honorary awards for her career – the Cecil B. DeMille Award in 1985, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Chaplin Award in 1986.
In the 1990s, Taylor focused her time on HIV/AIDS activism. Her few acting roles included characters in the animated series Captain Planet and the Planeteers (1992) and The Simpsons (1992, 1993), and cameos in four CBS series – The Nanny, Can't Hurry Love, Murphy Brown, and High Society – in one night in February 1996 to promote her new fragrance.
Her last theatrically released film was in the critically panned, but commercially successful, The Flintstones (1994), in which she played Pearl Slaghoople in a brief supporting role.:436 Taylor received American and British honors for her career: the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1993, the Screen Actors Guild honorary award in 1997, and a BAFTA Fellowship in 1999. In 2000, she was appointed a Dame Commander in the chivalric Order of the British Empire in the millennium New Year Honours List by Queen Elizabeth II. After supporting roles in the television film These Old Broads (2001) and in the animated sitcom God, the Devil and Bob (2001), Taylor announced that she was retiring from acting to devote her time to philanthropy.:436 She gave one last public performance in 2007 when, with James Earl Jones, she performed the play Love Letters at an AIDS benefit at the Paramount Studios.:436
Filmography and awardsMain article: Elizabeth Taylor filmographyMain article: List of awards and nominations received by Elizabeth TaylorOther venturesHIV/AIDS activismTaylor was one of the first celebrities to participate in HIV/AIDS activism and helped to raise more than $270 million for the cause. She began her philanthropic work after becoming frustrated with the fact that very little was being done to combat the disease despite the media attention. She later explained for Vanity Fair that she "decided that with my name, I could open certain doors, that I was a commodity in myself – and I'm not talking as an actress. I could take the fame I'd resented and tried to get away from for so many years – but you can never get away from it – and use it to do some good. I wanted to retire, but the tabloids wouldn't let me. So, I thought: If you're going to screw me over, I'll use you."Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi alongside Taylor, who is testifying in 1990 before the House Budget Committee on HIV-AIDS FundingTaylor began her philanthropic efforts in 1984 by helping to organize and by hosting the first AIDS fundraiser to benefit the AIDS Project Los Angeles. In August 1985, she and Dr. Michael Gottlieb founded the National AIDS Research Foundation after her friend and former co-star Rock Hudson announced that he was dying of the disease. The following month, the foundation merged with Dr. Mathilde Krim's AIDS foundation to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). As amfAR's focus is on research funding, Taylor founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation (ETAF) in 1991 to raise awareness and to provide support services for people with HIV/AIDS, paying for its overhead costs herself. Since her death, her estate has continued to fund ETAF's work, and donates 25% of royalties from the use of her image and likeness to the foundation. In addition to her work for people affected by HIV/AIDS in the United States, Taylor was instrumental in expanding amfAR's operations to other countries; ETAF also operates internationally.
Taylor testified before the Senate and House for the Ryan White Care Act in 1986, 1990, and 1992. She persuaded President Ronald Reagan to acknowledge the disease for the first time in a speech in 1987, and publicly criticized presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton for lack of interest in combatting the disease. Taylor also founded the Elizabeth Taylor Medical Center to offer free HIV/AIDS testing and care at the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, D. C., and the Elizabeth Taylor Endowment Fund for the UCLA Clinical AIDS Research and Education Center in Los Angeles. In 2015, Taylor's business partner Kathy Ireland claimed that Taylor ran an illegal "underground network" that distributed medications to Americans suffering from HIV/AIDS during the 1980s, when the Food and Drug Administration had not yet approved them. The claim was challenged by several people, including amfAR's former vice president for development and external affairs, Taylor's former publicist, and activists who were involved in the Project Inform in the 1980s and 1990s.
Taylor was honored with several awards for her philanthropic work. She was made a Knight of the French Legion of Honour in 1987, and received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1993, the Screen Actors' Guild Lifetime Achievement Award for Humanitarian service in 1997, the GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2000, and the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001.Taylor promoting her first fragrance, Passion, in 1987Fragrance and jewelry brandsTaylor was the first celebrity to create her own collection of fragrances. In collaboration with Elizabeth Arden, Inc., she began by launching two best-selling perfumes – Passion in 1987, and White Diamonds in 1991. Taylor personally supervised the creation and production of each of the 11 fragrances marketed in her name. According to biographers Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger, she earned more money through the fragrance collection than during her entire acting career,:436 and upon her death, the British newspaper The Guardian estimated that the majority of her estimated $600 million-$1 billion estate consisted of revenue from fragrances. In 2005, Taylor also founded a jewelry company, House of Taylor, in collaboration with Kathy Ireland and Jack and Monty Abramov.
Personal lifeMarriages, relationships, and children
Taylor's relationships were subject to intense media attention throughout her adult life, as exemplified by a 1955 issue of gossip magazine Confidential.Throughout her adult years, Taylor's personal life, especially her eight marriages (two to the same man), drew a large amount of media attention and public disapproval. According to biographer Alexander Walker, "Whether she liked it or not ... marriage is the matrix of the myth that began surrounding Elizabeth Taylor from [when she was sixteen]".:126 MGM organized her to date football champion Glenn Davis in 1948, and the following year, she was briefly engaged to William Pawley Jr., son of US ambassador William D. Pawley.:75–88 Film tycoon Howard Hughes also wanted to marry her, and offered to pay her parents a six-figure sum of money if she were to become his wife.:81–82 Taylor declined the offer, but was otherwise eager to marry young, as her "rather puritanical upbringing and beliefs" made her believe that "love was synonymous with marriage". Taylor later described herself as being "emotionally immature" during this time due to her sheltered childhood, and believed that she could gain independence from her parents and MGM through marriage.
Taylor was 18 when she married Conrad "Nicky" Hilton Jr., heir to the Hilton Hotels chain, at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills on May 6, 1950.:106–112 MGM organized the large and expensive wedding, which became a major media event.:106–112 In the weeks after their wedding, Taylor realized that she had made a mistake; not only did she and Hilton have few interests in common, but he was also abusive and a heavy drinker.:113–119 She was granted a divorce in January 1951, eight months after their wedding.:120–125
Taylor married her second husband, British actor Michael Wilding – a man 20 years her senior – in a low-key ceremony at Caxton Hall in London on February 21, 1952.:139 She had first met him in 1948 while filming The Conspirator in England, and their relationship began when she returned to film Ivanhoe in 1951.:131–133 Taylor found their age gap appealing, as she wanted "the calm and quiet and security of friendship" from their relationship; he hoped that the marriage would aid his career in Hollywood.:136 They had two sons: Michael Howard (b. January 6, 1953) and Christopher Edward (b. February 27, 1955).:148,160 As Taylor grew older and more confident in herself, she began to drift apart from Wilding, whose failing career was also a source of marital strife.:160–165 When she was away filming Giant in 1955, gossip magazine Confidential caused a scandal by claiming that he had entertained strippers at their home.:164–165 Taylor and Wilding announced their separation on July 18, 1956, and were divorced in January 1957.Taylor with her third husband Mike Todd and her three children in 1957Taylor married her third husband, theater and film producer Mike Todd, in Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico, on February 2, 1957.:178–180 They had one daughter, Elizabeth "Liza" Frances (b. August 6, 1957).:186 Todd, known for publicity stunts, encouraged the media attention to their marriage; for example, in June 1957, he threw a birthday party at Madison Square Garden, which was attended by 18,000 guests and broadcast on CBS.:5–6:188 His death in a plane crash on March 22, 1958, left Taylor devastated.:5–6:193–202 She was comforted by Todd's and her friend, singer Eddie Fisher, with whom she soon began an affair.:7–9:201–210 As Fisher was still married to actress Debbie Reynolds, the affair resulted in a public scandal, with Taylor being branded a "homewrecker".:7–9:201–210 Taylor and Fisher were married at the Temple Beth Sholom in Las Vegas on May 12, 1959; she later stated that she married him only due to her filming Cleopatra in Italy in 1962, Taylor began an affair with her co-star, Welsh actor Richard Burton, although Burton was also married. Rumors about the affair began to circulate in the press, and were confirmed by a paparazzi shot of them on a yacht in Ischia.:27–34 According to sociologist Ellis Cashmore, the publication of the photograph was a "turning point", beginning a new era in which it became difficult for celebrities to keep their personal lives separate from their public images. The scandal caused Taylor and Burton to be condemned for "erotic vagrancy" by the Vatican, with calls also in the US Congress to bar them from re-entering the country.:36 Taylor was granted a divorce from Fisher on March 5, 1964 in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, and married Burton 10 days later in a private ceremony at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal.:99–100 Burton subsequently adopted Liza Todd and Maria Burton (b. August 1, 1961), a German orphan whose adoption process Taylor had begun while married to Fisher.
Dubbed "Liz and Dick" by the media, Taylor and Burton starred together in 11 films, and led a jet-set lifestyle, spending millions on "furs, diamonds, paintings, designer clothes, travel, food, liquor, a yacht, and a jet".:193 Sociologist Karen Sternheimer states that they "became a cottage industry of speculation about their alleged life of excess. From reports of massive spending [...] affairs, and even an open marriage, the couple came to represent a new era of 'gotcha' celebrity coverage, where the more personal the story, the better." They divorced for the first time in June 1974, but reconciled, and remarried in Kasane, Botswana, on October 10, 1975.:376,391–394 The second marriage lasted less than a year, ending in divorce in July 1976.:384–385,406 Taylor and Burton's relationship was often referred to as the "marriage of the century" by the media, and she later stated, "After Richard, the men in my life were just there to hold the coat, to open the door. All the men after Richard were really just company.":vii,437 Soon after her final divorce from Burton, Taylor met her sixth husband, John Warner, a Republican politician from Virginia.:402–405 They were married on December 4, 1976, after which Taylor concentrated on working for his electoral campaign.:402–405 Once Warner had been elected to the Senate, she started to find her life as a politician's wife in Washington, D.C., boring and lonely, becoming depressed, overweight, and increasingly addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol.:402–405 Taylor and Warner separated in December 1981, and divorced a year later in November 1982.:410–411
After the divorce from Warner, Taylor dated actor Anthony Geary, and was engaged to Mexican lawyer Victor Luna in 1983–1984,:422–434 and New York businessman Dennis Stein in 1985. She met her seventh – and last – husband, construction worker Larry Fortensky, at the Betty Ford Center in 1988.:437:465–466 They were married at the Neverland Ranch of her long-time friend Michael Jackson on October 6, 1991. The wedding was again subject to intense media attention, with one photographer parachuting to the ranch and Taylor selling the wedding pictures to People for $1 million, which she used to start her AIDS foundation. Taylor and Fortensky divorced in October 1996,:437 but remained in contact for life. She attributed the split to her painful hip operations and his obsessive-compulsive disorder. In the winter of 1999, Fortensky underwent brain surgery after falling off a balcony and was comatose for six weeks; Taylor immediately notified the hospital she would personally guarantee his medical expenses. At the end of 2010, she wrote him a letter that read: "Larry darling, you will always be a big part of my heart! I'll love you for ever." Taylor's last phone call with Fortensky was on February 7, 2011, one day before she checked into the hospital for what turned out to be her final stay. He told her she would outlive him. Although they had been divorced for almost 15 years, Taylor left Fortensky $825,000 in her will.
Support for Jewish and Zionist causesTaylor was raised as a Christian Scientist, and converted to Judaism in 1959.:173–174:206–210 Although two of her husbands – Mike Todd and Eddie Fisher – were Jewish, Taylor stated that she did not convert because of them, but had wanted to do so "for a long time", and that there was "comfort and dignity and hope for me in this ancient religion that [has] survived for four thousand years... I feel as if I have been a Jew all my life". Walker believed that Taylor was influenced in her decision by her godfather, Victor Cazalet, and her mother, who were active supporters of Zionism during her childhood.:14
Following her conversion, Taylor became an active supporter of Jewish and Zionist causes. In 1959, she purchased $100,000 worth of Israeli bonds, which led to her films being banned by Muslim countries throughout the Middle East and Africa. She was also barred from entering Egypt to film Cleopatra in 1962, but the ban was lifted two years later after the Egyptian officials deemed that the film brought positive publicity for the country. In addition to purchasing bonds, Taylor helped to raise money for organizations such as the Jewish National Fund, and sat on the board of trustees of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
She also advocated for the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel, cancelled a visit to the USSR because of its condemnation of Israel due to the Six-Day War, and signed a letter protesting the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3379 of 1975. In 1976, she offered herself as a replacement hostage after more than 100 Israeli civilians were taken hostage in the Entebbe skyjacking. She had a small role in the television film made about the incident, Victory at Entebbe (1976), and narrated Genocide (1981), an Academy Award-winning documentary about the Holocaust.
Style and jewelry collection
Taylor in a studio publicity photo in 1953Taylor is considered a fashion icon both for her film costumes and personal style. At MGM, her costumes were mostly designed by Helen Rose and Edith Head, and in the 1960s by Irene Sharaff. Her most famous costumes include a white ball gown in A Place in the Sun (1951), a Grecian dress in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), a green A-line dress in Suddenly Last Summer (1959), and a slip and a fur coat in BUtterfield 8 (1960). Her make-up look in Cleopatra (1963) started a trend for "cat-eye" make-up done with black eyeliner.:135–136
Taylor collected jewelry through her life, and owned the 33.19-carat (6.638 g) Krupp Diamond, the 69.42-carat (13.884 g) Taylor-Burton Diamond, and the 50-carat (10 g) La Peregrina Pearl, all three of which were gifts from husband Richard She also published a book about her collection, My Love Affair with Jewelry, in 2002. Taylor helped to popularize the work of fashion designers Valentino Garavani and Halston. She received a Lifetime of Glamour Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) in 1997. After her death, her jewelry and fashion collections were saleed by Christie's to benefit her AIDS foundation, ETAF. The jewelry sold for a record-breaking sum of $156.8 million, and the clothes and accessories for a further $5.5 million.
Los Angeles residenceTaylor lived at 700 Nimes Road in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles from 1982 until her death in 2011. The art photographer Catherine Opie created an eponymous photographic study of the house in 2011.
Health problems and death
Taylor's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the days following her death in 2011Taylor struggled with health problems for most of her life. She was born with scoliosis and broke her back while filming National Velvet in 1944.:40–47 The fracture went undetected for several years, although it caused her chronic back problems.:40–47 In 1956, she underwent an operation in which some of her spinal discs were removed and replaced with donated bone.:175 Taylor was also prone to other illnesses and injuries, which often necessitated surgery; in 1961, she survived a near-fatal bout of pneumonia that required a tracheotomy. She was treated for the pneumonia with a dose of staph bacteriophage.
In addition, she was addicted to alcohol and prescription pain killers and tranquilizers. She was treated at the Betty Ford Center for seven weeks from December 1983 to January 1984, becoming the first celebrity to openly admit herself to the clinic.:424–425 She relapsed later in the decade, and entered rehabilitation again in 1988.:366–368 Taylor also struggled with her weight – she became overweight in the 1970s, especially after her marriage to Senator John Warner, and published a diet book about her experiences, Elizabeth Takes Off (1988). Taylor was a heavy smoker until she experienced a severe bout of pneumonia in 1990.
Taylor's health increasingly declined during the last two decades of her life, and she rarely attended public events after about 1996. Taylor had serious bouts of pneumonia in 1990 and 2000, underwent hip replacement surgery in the mid-1990s, underwent surgery for a benign brain tumor in 1997, and was successfully treated for skin cancer in 2002. She used a wheelchair due to her back problems, and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure in 2004. Six weeks after being hospitalized, she died of the illness at age 79 on March 23, 2011, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. Her funeral took place the following day at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. The service was a private Jewish ceremony presided over by Rabbi Jerome Cutler. At Taylor's request, the ceremony began 15 minutes behind schedule, as, according to her representative, "She even wanted to be late for her own funeral". She was entombed in the cemetery's Great Mausoleum.
Legacy"More than anyone else I can think of, Elizabeth Taylor represents the complete movie phenomenon – what movies are as an art and an industry, and what they have meant to those of us who have grown up watching them in the dark... Like movies themselves, she's grown up with us, as we have with her. She's someone whose entire life has been played in a series of settings forever denied the fourth wall. Elizabeth Taylor is the most important character she's ever played."-Vincent Canby of The New York Times in 1986Taylor was one of the last stars of classical Hollywood cinema, and one of the first modern celebrities. During the era of the studio system, she exemplified the classic film star. She was portrayed as different from "ordinary" people, and her public image was carefully crafted and controlled by MGM. When the era of classical Hollywood ended in the 1960s, and paparazzi photography became a normal feature of media culture, Taylor came to define a new type of celebrity, whose real private life was the focus of public interest. According to Adam Bernstein of The Washington Post, "[m]ore than for any film role, she became famous for being famous, setting a media template for later generations of entertainers, models, and all variety of semi-somebodies."
Regardless of the acting awards she won during her career, Taylor's film performances were often overlooked by contemporary critics; according to film historian Jeanine Basinger, "No actress ever had a more difficult job in getting critics to accept her onscreen as someone other than Elizabeth Taylor... Her persona ate her alive." Her film roles often mirrored her personal life, and many critics continue to regard her as always playing herself, rather than acting. In contrast, Mel Gussow of The New York Times stated that "the range of [Taylor's] acting was surprisingly wide", despite the fact that she never received any professional training. Film critic Peter Bradshaw called her "an actress of such sexiness it was an incitement to riot – sultry and queenly at the same time", and "a shrewd, intelligent, intuitive acting presence in her later years". David Thomson stated that "she had the range, nerve, and instinct that only Bette Davis had had before – and like Davis, Taylor was monster and empress, sweetheart and scold, idiot and wise woman". Five films in which she starred – Lassie Come Home, National Velvet, A Place in the Sun, Giant, and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? – have been preserved in the National Film Registry, and the American Film Institute has named her the seventh greatest female screen legend of classical Hollywood cinema.
Taylor has also been discussed by journalists and scholars interested in the role of women in Western society. Camille Paglia writes that Taylor was a "pre-feminist woman" who "wields the sexual power that feminism cannot explain and has tried to destroy. Through stars like Taylor, we sense the world-disordering impact of legendary women like Delilah, Salome, and Helen of Troy." In contrast, cultural critic M.G. Lord calls Taylor an "accidental feminist", stating that while she did not identify as a feminist, many of her films had feminist themes and "introduced a broad audience to feminist ideas".[b] Similarly, Ben W. Heineman Jr. and Cristine Russell write in The Atlantic that her role in Giant "dismantled stereotypes about women and minorities".
Taylor is considered a gay icon, and received widespread recognition for her HIV/AIDS activism. After her death, GLAAD issued a statement saying that she "was an icon not only in Hollywood, but in the LGBT community, where she worked to ensure that everyone was treated with the respect and dignity we all deserve", and Sir Nick Partridge of the Terrence Higgins Trust called her "the first major star to publicly fight fear and prejudice towards AIDS". According to Paul Flynn of The Guardian, she was "a new type of gay icon, one whose position is based not on tragedy, but on her work for the LGBTQ community". Speaking of her charity work, former President Bill Clinton said at her death, "Elizabeth's legacy will live on in many people around the world whose lives will be longer and better because of her work and the ongoing efforts of those she inspired."
Actress Elizabeth Taylor starred in films like 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' and 'Butterfield 8' but was just as famous for her violet eyes and scandalous love life.Who Was Elizabeth Taylor?Elizabeth Taylor made her film debut in One Born Every Minute (1942) and achieved stardom with National Velvet (1944). Although she won Academy Awards for her work in Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1965), Taylor was just as famous for her many marriages, extensive jewelry collection and stunning violet eyes.
Early LifeElizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, 1932, in London, England. One of film's most celebrated stars, Taylor fashioned a career that's covered more than six decades, accepting roles that have not only showcased her beauty, but her ability to take on emotionally charged characters.
Taylor's American parents, both art dealers, were residing in London when she was born. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, the Taylors returned to the United States and settled into their new life in Los Angeles.
Performing was in Taylor's blood. Her mother had worked as an actress until she married. At the age of 3, the young Taylor started dancing and eventually gave a recital for Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. Not long after relocating to California, a family friend suggested the Taylors' daughter take a screen test.
Child StarShe soon signed a contract with Universal Studios, and made her screen debut at the age of 10 in There's One Born Every Minute (1942). She followed that up with a bigger role in Lassie Come Home (1943) and later The White Cliffs of Dover (1944).
Her breakout role, however, came in 1944 with National Velvet, in a role Taylor spent four months working to get. The film subsequently turned out to be a huge hit that pulled in more than $4 million and made the 12-year-old actress a huge star.
In the glare of the Hollywood spotlight, the young actress showed she was more than adept at handling celebrity's tricky terrain. Even more impressive was the fact that, unlike so many child stars before and after her, Taylor proved she could make a seamless transition to more adult roles.
Mainstream Success and MarriagesHer stunning looks helped. At just 18 she played opposite Spencer Tracy in Father of the Bride (1950). Taylor also showed her acting talents in 1954 with three films: The Last Time I Saw Paris, Rhapsody and Elephant Walk, the latter of which saw Taylor take on the role of a plantation owner's wife who is in love with the farm's manager.
Her personal life only boosted the success of her films. For a time, she dated millionaire Howard Hughes, then at the age of 17, Taylor made her first entrance into marriage, when she wed hotel heir, Nicky Hilton.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on the film set of "The Sandpiper" in 1965Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton
Photo: API/GAMMA/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
The union didn't last long and, in 1952, Taylor was walking down the aisle again—this time to marry actor Michael Wilding. In all, Taylor has married eight times during her life, twice to actor Richard Burton.
CELEBRITYElizabeth Taylor: Richard Burton and the Six Other Men She Called...BY RACHEL CHANG MAR 13, 2020
ROYALTYQueen Elizabeth II(1926-)
While her love life continued to make international headlines, Taylor continued to shine as an actress. She delivered a riveting performance in the drama A Place in the Sun, and turned things up even more in 1956 with the film adaptation of the Edna Ferber novel, Giant, that co-starred James Dean. Two years later, she sizzled on the big screen in the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The following year, she starred in another Williams classic, Suddenly Last Summer. Taylor earned her first Oscar, capturing the coveted Best Actress award for her role as a call girl in Butterfield 8 (1960).
Personal Life in the SpotlightBut Taylor's fame was also touched by tragedy and loss. In 1958, she became a young widow when her husband, pioneering film producer Mike Todd, was killed in a plane crash. After his death, Taylor became embroiled in one of the greatest Hollywood love scandals of the era when she began an affair with Todd's close friend, Eddie Fisher. Fisher divorced Debbie Reynolds and married Taylor in 1959. The couple stayed married for five years until she left Fisher for Burton.
The public's obsession with Taylor's love life hit new heights with her 1964 marriage to Burton. She'd met and fallen in love with the actor during her work on Cleopatra (1963), a film that not only heightened Taylor's clout and fame but also proved to be a staggering investment, clocking in at an unprecedented $37 million to make.
The Taylor-Burton union was a fiery and passionate one. They appeared onscreen together in the much-panned The V.I.P.'s (1963), and then again two years later for the heralded Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? a film that earned Taylor her second Oscar for her role as an overweight, angry wife of an alcoholic professor, played by Burton.
Elizabeth Taylor PhotoElizabeth Taylor
Photo: Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
The subsequent years proved to be an up-and-down affair for Taylor. There were more marriages, more divorces, health obstacles and a struggling film career, with movies that gained little traction with critics or the movie-going public.
Later Years and DeathStill, Taylor continued to act. She found work on television, even making a guest appearance on General Hospital, and on stage. She also began focusing more attention on philanthropy. After her close friend Rock Hudson died in 1985 following his battle with HIV/AIDS, the actress started work to find a cure for the disease. In 1991, she launched the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation in order to offer greater support for those who are sick, as well fund research for more advanced treatments.
Largely retired from the world of acting, Taylor received numerous awards for her body of work. In 1993, she received the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award. In 2000, she was made Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE).
Taylor overcame a litany of health problems throughout the 1990s, from diabetes to congestive heart failure. She had both hips replaced, and in 1997, had a brain tumor removed. In October 2009, Taylor, who has four children, underwent successful heart surgery. In early 2011, Taylor again experienced heart problems. She was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Hospital that February for congestive heart failure. On March 23, 2011, Taylor passed away from the condition.
Shortly after her death, her son Michael Wilding released a statement, saying "My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest, with great passion, humor, and love ... We will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world."
The film star Elizabeth Taylor, who has died of heart failure aged 79, was in the public eye from the age of 11 and remained there even decades after her last hit movie. She managed to keep people fascinated, by her incandescent beauty, her courage, her open-natured character, her self-deprecating humour, her eight marriages (two of them to the actor Richard Burton), her many brushes with death, her seesawing weight, her diamonds and her humanitarian causes, all of which often obscured the reason why she was famous in the first place – she had a tantalising screen presence, in films including A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), Cat On a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Butterfield 8 (1961), Cleopatra (1963) and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966).
Taylor was born in Hampstead, north London, of American parents. Her mother, Sara, was a former stage actor and her father, Francis, an art dealer. As soon as she could walk she was given ballet lessons, and at the age of three she danced with her class in front of the royal family. In 1939, a few months before the outbreak of war, the family moved to Hollywood, where her father opened an art gallery much patronised by the film colony. The beauty of the owner's dark-haired, violet-eyed young daughter won almost as much praise as the paintings on the walls, and she was soon making her screen debut, at the age of 10, in There's One Born Every Minute (1942), at Universal.
But it was MGM who launched her career proper with Lassie Come Home (1943), and for whom most of her films were made. When Sara Taylor heard that the studio was looking for a young girl to play Velvet Brown, who wins the Grand National disguised as a boy in National Velvet (1945), she brought her daughter to see the producer Pandro S Berman. He thought her too thin and fragile for the part, although she could ride well. But three months later, after rigid training from her mother, she was able to change Berman's mind. Her performance, in which she radiates youth, is enjoyed perennially.
Meanwhile, she was struggling to get an education at the Hollywood school, where she developed a crush on an older pupil, John Derek, the first recorded instance of her interest in the opposite sex. At 17, she was despairing about getting much schoolwork done while making Conspirator (1949), in her first "adult" role. "How can I when Robert Taylor keeps sticking his tongue down my throat?" When the eccentric RKO boss Howard Hughes became interested in her, he sent his lawyer to Mrs Taylor with an offer of $1m to arrange a marriage with her daughter. At being told of the offer, Elizabeth laughed out loud.
Her debut marriage was to Nicky Hilton, the 23-year-old playboy son of the hotel magnate Conrad Hilton, in 1950. It seemed a fairytale romance, ideal fodder for the glossy fan magazines, as both were young, attractive, rich and pampered. MGM took advantage of Hollywood's biggest wedding of the year by releasing Vincente Minnelli's delightful comedy Father of the Bride (1950), in which Taylor played the bride and Spencer Tracy was the father, at around the same time.
After the genuine marriage ceremony, Taylor whispered to her mother, "Oh, mother! Nick and I are one now, for ever and ever." "For ever and ever" turned out to be eight months. According to her testimony at the divorce proceedings, Hilton had ignored her during their long European honeymoon, drank heavily and abused her in public. He complained, "I didn't marry a girl. I married an institution."
The "institution", still in her teens, in ravishing close-ups, was now driving Montgomery Clift to murder his pregnant girlfriend in George Stevens's A Place in the Sun. "Liz is the only woman I have ever met who turns me on," remarked the gay Clift. They were to become close friends and, during the making of Raintree County in 1957, she was the first on the scene of Clift's car crash, pulling a dislodged tooth out of his throat to stop him choking. Two years later, she insisted that the scarred and drug-addicted Clift be cast with her in Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), an adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play.
In due course, she met the sophisticated British actor Michael Wilding, 20 years her senior. She was playing Rebecca in Ivanhoe (1952) in England when she proposed to him. Ironically, MGM had given her the role abroad as a means of breaking up her affair with the director Stanley Donen. Taylor and Wilding were married in 1952, at a London registry office. Her sons, Michael and Christopher, were both born by caesarean section, in 1953 and 1955 respectively. By 1956 the marriage began to totter.
She was 24, and becoming one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood, especially after her performance in Stevens's Giant, during which she formed warm relationships with her co-stars, Rock Hudson and James Dean. Wilding was middle-aged and his career was fading, although she got him an MGM contract. Clearly the age gap, which Taylor had insisted was unimportant at the outset, played an important part in the break-up of the marriage, and they agreed to an amicable divorce.
Ironically, the man she was to marry next was five years older than Wilding. But the flamboyant impresario Mike Todd (real name Avrom Goldbogen), the begetter of Around the World in 80 Days (1956), was noted for his youthful spirit and his abundant energy. At their wedding in Acapulco in 1957, Mike's lifelong friend, the crooner Eddie Fisher, was best man, and Eddie's wife, Debbie Reynolds, was the matron of honour. In the same year, a daughter, Liza, was born, also by caesarean, and both mother and child nearly died. Taylor was advised never to have another baby.
A mere seven months later, Todd's private plane, Lucky Liz, in which he was flying to New York, crashed in a storm near Albuquerque leaving no survivors. Taylor had wanted to accompany her husband on the flight but she was persuaded to stay at home because of a flu virus. On hearing of the crash, she screamed so loudly that neighbours a few doors away could hear her, and she had to be drugged to prevent her from taking her own life.
Gradually, Taylor came out of seclusion and completed Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, another Williams adaptation, which she had already been filming when Todd was killed. Despite, or because of, her state of mind, she gave one of her most finely wrought performances as the sexually frustrated Maggie. Her voice, never her strong point, seemed to have gained in power, and she matched Paul Newman and Burl Ives blow for blow.
The film's box-office potential was increased further by the gossip surrounding Taylor and Fisher. Taylor, who had been cast as the grieving widow, now found herself in the role of the vamp who wrecked the Fishers' apparently idyllic marriage. The outraged moralistic public was unaware that the Fisher-Reynolds marriage was already in tatters. In 1959, Taylor, who had converted to Judaism when she married Todd, married Fisher at a synagogue in Las Vegas.
Taylor was in London where she was completing Suddenly, Last Summer (in which she brilliantly played Katharine Hepburn's mentally-disturbed niece), when the producer Walter Wanger offered her the title role in Cleopatra. The star half-jokingly told him that she would do it for $1m against 10% of the gross. To everyone's astonishment, 20th Century-Fox agreed to her terms, making her the highest-paid performer for a single film in the history of Hollywood to that date. As she said, "If someone's dumb enough to offer me a million dollars to make a picture, I'm certainly not dumb enough to turn it down."
When filming on Cleopatra started at Pinewood studios, Peter Finch was Julius Caesar and Stephen Boyd was Mark Antony, although neither of them was to see their leading lady for more than a month. Taylor was first stricken with a cold, then a fever, then an infected tooth. In March 1961, she was rushed to a London clinic with lung congestion. She was given a tracheotomy that helped her breathing, but for days she was on the danger list. After some time in a coma, she began to rally. Her physicians announced, "She has made a very rare recovery. Miss Taylor is a woman of great courage. She put up a wonderful fight."
In the spring, Taylor won her first Oscar, after three consecutive nominations for best actress in a leading role (in Raintree County, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof and Suddenly, Last Summer), for her role as a high-class hooker in the 1960 film Butterfield 8, an adaptation of John O'Hara's novel. Overnight, she had regained the affection of the fickle industry and public. Taylor herself thought the Oscar was a consolation prize for not dying and that the film "was a piece of shit".
As for Cleopatra, the whole project was shipped to Rome, and Finch and Boyd were replaced by Rex Harrison and Burton. Taylor arrived in Rome with a large entourage consisting of one husband, three children, five dogs, two cats, various secretaries and dozens of servants, and settled at the Villa Pappa, a 14-roomed mansion off the Via Appia.
"There comes a time during the making of a movie when the actors become the characters they play," Wanger noted in his diary. "The cameras turned and the current was literally turned on. It was quiet and you could almost feel the electricity between Elizabeth Taylor and Burton."
After the first "electric scene" they performed together, Burton, who was married, frequented the villa in the evenings. On one particular occasion, while Burton was regaling the guests with stories, Fisher went to the piano and started playing and singing loudly. Finally, Taylor yelled, "Shut up, Eddie! We can't talk!", whereupon the jealous crooner slammed down the lid of the piano and strode into the next room. A few moments later, Fisher's records were blasting through the house. Taylor covered her ears while the guests departed, diplomatically.
"I'm afraid at first it was lust, and then I got to know her and it was love," Burton recalled. Throughout the shooting, to avoid the constant prying of the paparazzi, the celebrated couple would escape to a cheap one-room apartment on the beach. Finally, weary of subterfuge, they decided to be seen publicly in the Via Veneto. The Vatican talked of "this insult to the nobility of the hearth", and Ed Sullivan on his TV show said, "You can only trust that youngsters will not be persuaded that the sanctity of marriage has been invalidated by the appalling example of Mrs Taylor-Fisher and married man Burton."
After Cleopatra, Burton and Taylor announced that they would make another film together, originally to be called International Affair. The title was changed to The VIPs. During the filming in London, Cleopatra opened to mixed reviews. Audiences were disappointed that the love scenes between Taylor and Burton that had been the talk of modern Rome were not repeated with so much passion in those of ancient Rome. But public interest in the couple's private lives still made the film a top earner of 1963.
The affair continued in the public eye, while both Fisher and Sybil Burton held out for the best possible divorce deals. Finally, Sybil Burton gave in, claiming cruelty and that her husband was "in the constant company of another woman," which Newsweek called "the throwaway line of the decade".
Burton and Taylor were married in March 1964 by a Unitarian minister at the Ritz-Carlton in Montreal. She wore a pale yellow Irene Sharaff gown, and a $150,000 emerald and diamond brooch that Burton had bought her at Bulgari in Rome. The bride and groom gave their respective religions as Jewish and Presbyterian.
The scandal over, public interest in them only seemed to increase. The world's most famous couple had become celebrities rather than actors. "I want to be known as an actress," Taylor told the New York Times in 1964. Unfortunately, their reputations as serious actors were not much enhanced by the next film they made together, the limp soap opera The Sandpiper (1965). After their three less than convincing films together, it was fortunate that their credibility as performers was soon brilliantly restored by Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? for which Taylor won her second Oscar, playing the bitter, 52-year-old, vulgar wife of a self-loathing professor (Burton). It was Taylor's ability to get into the skin of the character, more than the padding and a tousled salt-and-pepper wig, which transformed the legendary beauty into a blowsy virago.
Following the film, the couple appeared on stage, without payment, at Oxford University, for five sold-out performances of Christopher Marlowe's tragedy Dr Faustus, the proceeds of which were to go to build an Oxford University Theatre Centre. Burton played the title role, while Taylor was the four-minute wordless apparition of Helen of Troy.
Burton continually claimed that Taylor had taught him how to act on film: "That girl has true glamour. If I retired tomorrow, I'd be forgotten in five years, but she would go on forever." Despite their genuine affection for one another, their open quarrels earned them the nickname of "the Battling Burtons" throughout the 1960s. This was cleverly exploited when they fought lustily – she as Katherina, he as Petruchio – through Franco Zeffirelli's bustling, colourful version of The Taming of the Shrew (1967). They also co-starred in The Comedians (1967, from Graham Greene's novel) and Boom (1968, another Williams adaptation) which allowed them to work in West Africa (standing in for Haiti in the former film) and Sardinia.
As the Taylor-Burton circus moved from country to country, their way of life, which the New York Times likened to the court of Louis XIV, became ever more lavish. In the consciousness-raising late 1960s, younger people especially began to find them vulgar and frivolous, and their films irrelevant. Taylor's elder son, Michael, would become a hippie and live in a commune in Wales "in order to get away from all those diamonds", according to the Daily Mirror.
"Those diamonds" included the 33.19-carat Krupp diamond that Burton bought Taylor for more than $300,000 in 1968; a $1.5m Cartier diamond set in a necklace of smaller diamonds, and the much-publicised heart-shaped diamond pendant Burton gave her for her 40th birthday. It had first been given by the Emperor Shah Jehan (the builder of the Taj Mahal) to his young bride in 1621, engraved with the message "Eternal Love Til Death". In fairness, the Burtons were equally generous in giving vast sums to worthy causes. In 1966, Taylor established a heart disease research foundation in memory of Clift and endowed it with $1m.
While Taylor's looks and spunky performances still gathered praise in films such as John Huston's Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), Burton, who was now drinking heavily, became an object of derision. The marriage broke down and, in June 1974, Taylor divorced Burton in Switzerland. "There were too many differences. I have tried everything," she told the court.
Yet they were reconciled in August 1975, attracting as much attention as ever. On a visit to South Africa in the autumn, an X-ray of Taylor's chest showed two spots on her lungs. Terrified, Burton and Taylor clung to each other all night, she gave him valium, and he whispered poetry in her ear. In the morning, she was told she did not have cancer. In his joy, Burton proposed remarriage. The ceremony took place on the banks of a river in Botswana. A few months later, they were again filing for divorce.
Taylor soon met John Warner, former secretary of the navy to President Gerald Ford, and they married in 1976. She became a political wife, campaigning hard to get her husband elected to the Senate by attending endless charity benefits, shaking hundreds of hands, and speaking at public functions. "It was so boring. That's why I put on so much weight," she confessed.
She therefore decided to return to acting, on Broadway, as the vixen Regina Giddens in Lillian Hellman's drama The Little Foxes, which she also played at the Victoria Palace theatre, London, in 1982 to mixed reviews. But, with her career in full swing again – and solo – she was not content to be kept down on the farm in Virginia. She and Warner divorced in 1982.
After creating a minor sensation by appearing in several episodes of a daytime TV soap opera called General Hospital, opposite a new beau, Tony Geary, the unsinkable double act of Burton and Taylor resurfaced again. They starred together in Noël Coward's Private Lives in New York at a fee of $7,000 a week each, making the ticket prices the most expensive in Broadway history for a non-musical.
The long-running romance ended at Burton's death in August 1984. Taylor stayed away from his funeral so as not to turn it into a media circus. But a few days later, she stood stricken with grief at the graveside of the man with whom she had shared the limelight for more than two decades. In 2010 she allowed love letters between them to be published and said: "Richard was magnificent in every sense of the word. We were always madly and powerfully in love."
How different was her marriage in 1991 to Larry Fortensky, a construction worker 20 years her junior whom she met while being treated at the Betty Ford clinic. The vast differences between them doomed the marriage from the start, but Taylor always claimed that, with very few exceptions, she could not have sex with a man unless she was married to him.
Five years later, she was a single woman again and threw herself into charitable work, especially her campaign for Aids awareness, motivated by her affection for Hudson, who died of an Aids-related illness in 1985. In 1997, Taylor's health again hit the headlines when she had an operation for a brain tumour, and had to shave off her hair. She survived because of "her will to live, and her millions of fans willing her to do so", according to her friend Michael Jackson, who was at her bedside. In 2005 she was a vocal supporter of Jackson during his trial on charges of sexually abusing a child, of which he was acquitted, and after his sudden death in 2009, she said, "My life feels so empty. I don't think anyone knew how much we loved each other."
Although there were recurring rumours that she was to marry her constant companion Jason Winters, she dismissed them, saying she would never marry again.
Taylor, who was made a dame in 2000, is survived by her brother, Howard; two sons, Michael and Christopher, from her marriage to Wilding; her daughter, Liza, from her marriage to Todd; her and Burton's adopted daughter, Maria; and 10 grandchildren.
The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was a New Deal agency created in 1937 to combat rural poverty during the Great Depression in the United States. It succeeded the Resettlement Administration (1935–1937).
The FSA is famous for its small but highly influential photography program, 1935–44, that portrayed the challenges of rural poverty. The photographs in the FSA/Office of War Information Photograph Collection form an extensive pictorial record of American life between 1935 and 1944. This U.S. government photography project was headed for most of its existence by Roy Stryker, who guided the effort in a succession of government agencies: the Resettlement Administration (1935–1937), the Farm Security Administration (1937–1942), and the Office of War Information (1942–1944). The collection also includes photographs acquired from other governmental and nongovernmental sources, including the News Bureau at the Offices of Emergency Management (OEM), various branches of the military, and industrial corporations.
In total, the black-and-white portion of the collection consists of about 175,000 black-and-white film negatives, encompassing both negatives that were printed for FSA-OWI use and those that were not printed at the time. Color transparencies also made by the FSA/OWI are available in a separate section of the catalog: FSA/OWI Color Photographs.
The FSA stressed "rural rehabilitation" efforts to improve the lifestyle of very poor landowning farmers, and a program to purchase submarginal land owned by poor farmers and resettle them in group farms on land more suitable for efficient farming.
Reactionary critics, including the Farm Bureau, strongly opposed the FSA as an alleged experiment in collectivizing agriculture—that is, in bringing farmers together to work on large government-owned farms using modern techniques under the supervision of experts. After the Conservative coalition took control of Congress, it transformed the FSA into a program to help poor farmers buy land, and that program continues to operate in the 21st century as the Farmers Home Administration.
Walker Evans portrait of Allie Mae Burroughs (1936)
Arthur Rothstein photograph "Dust Bowl Cimarron County, Oklahoma" of a farmer and two sons during a dust storm in Cimarron County, Oklahoma (1936)
Dorothea Lange photograph of an Arkansas squatter of three years near Bakersfield, California (1935)The projects that were combined in 1935 to form the Resettlement Administration (RA) started in 1933 as an assortment of programs tried out by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The RA was headed by Rexford Tugwell, an economic advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, Tugwell's goal moving 650,000 people into 100,000,000 acres (400,000 km2) of exhausted, worn-out land was unpopular among the majority in Congress. This goal seemed socialistic to some and threatened to deprive powerful farm proprietors of their tenant workforce. The RA was thus left with only enough resources to relocate a few thousand people from 9 million acres (36,000 km2) and build several greenbelt cities, which planners admired as models for a cooperative future that never arrived.
The main focus of the RA was to now build relief camps in California for migratory workers, especially refugees from the drought-stricken Dust Bowl of the Southwest. This move was resisted by a large share of Californians, who did not want destitute migrants to settle in their midst. The RA managed to construct 95 camps that gave migrants unaccustomed clean quarters with running water and other amenities, but the 75,000 people who had the benefit of these camps were a small share of those in need and could only stay temporarily. After facing enormous criticism for his poor management of the RA, Tugwell resigned in 1936. On January 1, 1937, with hopes of making the RA more effective, the RA was transferred to the Department of Agriculture through executive order 7530.
On July 22, 1937, Congress passed the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act. This law authorized a modest credit program to assist tenant farmers to purchase land, and it was the culmination of a long effort to secure legislation for their benefit. Following the passage of the act, Congress passed the Farm Security Act into law. The Farm Security Act officially transformed the RA into the Farm Security Administration (FSA). The FSA expanded through funds given by the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act.
Relief workOne of the activities performed by the RA and FSA was the buying out of small farms that were not economically viable, and the setting up of 34 subsistence homestead communities, in which groups of farmers lived together under the guidance of government experts and worked a common area. They were not allowed to purchase their farms for fear that they would fall back into inefficient practices not guided by RA and FSA experts.
The Dust Bowl in the Great Plains displaced thousands of tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and laborers, many of whom (known as "Okies" or "Arkies") moved on to California. The FSA operated camps for them, such as Weedpatch Camp as depicted in The Grapes of Wrath.
The RA and the FSA gave educational aid to 455,000 farm families during the period 1936-1943. In June, 1936, Roosevelt wrote: "You are right about the farmers who suffer through their own fault... I wish you would have a talk with Tugwell about what he is doing to educate this type of farmer to become self-sustaining. During the past year, his organization has made 104,000 farm families practically self-sustaining by supervision and education along practical lines. That is a pretty good record!"
The FSA's primary mission was not to aid farm production or prices. Roosevelt's agricultural policy had, in fact, been to try to decrease agricultural production to increase prices. When production was discouraged, though, the tenant farmers and small holders suffered most by not being able to ship enough to market to pay rents. Many renters wanted money to buy farms, but the Agriculture Department realized there already were too many farmers, and did not have a program for farm purchases. Instead, they used education to help the poor stretch their money further. Congress, however, demanded that the FSA help tenant farmers purchase farms, and purchase loans of $191 million were made, which were eventually repaid. A much larger program was $778 million in loans (at effective rates of about 1% interest) to 950,000 tenant farmers. The goal was to make the farmer more efficient so the loans were used for new machinery, trucks, or animals, or to repay old debts. At all times, the borrower was closely advised by a government agent. Family needs were on the agenda, as the FSA set up a health insurance program and taught farm wives how to cook and raise children. Upward of a third of the amount was never repaid, as the tenants moved to much better opportunities in the cities.
The FSA was also one of the authorities administering relief efforts in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico during the Great Depression. Between 1938 and 1945, under the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration, it oversaw the purchase of 590 farms with the intent of distributing land to working and middle-class Puerto Ricans.
ModernizationThe FSA resettlement communities appear in the literature as efforts to ameliorate the wretched condition of southern sharecroppers and tenants, but those evicted to make way for the new settlers are virtually invisible in the historic record. The resettlement projects were part of larger efforts to modernize rural America. The removal of former tenants and their replacement by FSA clients in the lower Mississippi alluvial plain—the Delta—reveals core elements of New Deal modernizing policies. The key concepts that guided the FSA's tenant removals were: the definition of rural poverty as rooted in the problem of tenancy; the belief that economic success entailed particular cultural practices and social forms; and the commitment by those with political power to gain local support. These assumptions undergirded acceptance of racial segregation and the criteria used to select new settlers. Alternatives could only become visible through political or legal action—capacities sharecroppers seldom had. In succeeding decades, though, these modernizing assumptions created conditions for Delta African Americans on resettlement projects to challenge white supremacy.
FSA and its contribution to societyThe documentary photography genre describes photographs that would work as a time capsule for evidence in the future or a certain method that a person can use for a frame of reference. Facts presented in a photograph can speak for themselves after the viewer gets time to analyze it. The motto of the FSA was simply, as Beaumont Newhall insists, "not to inform us, but to move us." Those photographers wanted the government to move and give a hand to the people, as they were completely neglected and overlooked, thus they decided to start taking photographs in a style that we today call "documentary photography." The FSA photography has been influential due to its realist point of view, and because it works as a frame of reference and an educational tool from which later generations could learn. Society has benefited and will benefit from it for more years to come, as this photography can unveil the ambiguous and question the conditions that are taking place.
Photography programThe RA and FSA are well known for the influence of their photography program, 1935–1944. Photographers and writers were hired to report and document the plight of poor farmers. The Information Division (ID) of the FSA was responsible for providing educational materials and press information to the public. Under Roy Stryker, the ID of the FSA adopted a goal of "introducing America to Americans." Many of the most famous Depression-era photographers were fostered by the FSA project. Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Gordon Parks were three of the most famous FSA alumni. The FSA was also cited in Gordon Parks' autobiographical novel, A Choice of Weapons.
The FSA's photography was one of the first large-scale visual documentations of the lives of African-Americans. These images were widely disseminated through the Twelve Million Black Voices collection, published in October 1941, which combined FSA photographs selected by Edwin Rosskam and text by author and poet Richard Wright.
PhotographersFifteen photographers (ordered by year of hire) would produce the bulk of work on this project. Their diverse, visual documentation elevated government's mission from the "relocation" tactics of a Resettlement Administration to strategic solutions which would depend on America recognizing rural and already poor Americans, facing death by depression and dust. FSA photographers: Arthur Rothstein (1935), Theodor Jung (1935), Ben Shahn (1935), Walker Evans (1935), Dorothea Lange (1935), Carl Mydans (1935), Russell Lee (1936), Marion Post Wolcott (1936), John Vachon (1936, photo assignments began in 1938), Jack Delano (1940), John Collier (1941), Marjory Collins (1941), Louise Rosskam (1941), Gordon Parks (1942) and Esther Bubley (1942).
With America's entry into World War II, FSA would focus on a different kind of relocation as orders were issued for internment of Japanese Americans. FSA photographers would be transferred to the Office of War Information during the last years of the war and completely disbanded at the war's end. Photographers like Howard R. Hollem, Alfred T. Palmer, Arthur Siegel and OWI's Chief of Photographers John Rous were working in OWI before FSA's reorganization there. As a result of both teams coming under one unit name, these other individuals are sometimes associated with RA-FSA's pre-war images of American life. Though collectively credited with thousands of Library of Congress images, military ordered, positive-spin assignments like these four received starting in 1942, should be separately considered from pre-war, depression triggered imagery. FSA photographers were able to take time to study local circumstances and discuss editorial approaches with each other before capturing that first image. Each one talented in her or his own right, equal credit belongs to Roy Stryker who recognized, hired and empowered that talent.
John Collier Jr.John Collier Jr.
Jack DelanoJack Delano
Walker EvansWalker Evans
Dorothea LangeDorothea Lange
Russell LeeRussell Lee
Carl MydansCarl Mydans
Gordon ParksGordon Parks
Arthur RothsteinArthur Rothstein
John VachonJohn Vachon
Marion Post WolcottMarion Post Wolcott
These 15 photographers, some shown above, all played a significant role, not only in producing images for this project, but also in molding the resulting images in the final project through conversations held between the group members. The photographers produced images that breathed a humanistic social visual catalyst of the sort found in novels, theatrical productions, and music of the time. Their images are now regarded as a "national treasure" in the United States, which is why this project is regarded as a work of art.Photograph of Chicago's rail yards by Jack Delano, circa 1943Together with John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (not a government project) and documentary prose (for example Walker Evans and James Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men), the FSA photography project is most responsible for creating the image of the Depression in the United States. Many of the images appeared in popular magazines. The photographers were under instruction from Washington, DC, as to what overall impression the New Deal wanted to portray. Stryker's agenda focused on his faith in social engineering, the poor conditions among tenant cotton farmers, and the very poor conditions among migrant farm workers; above all, he was committed to social reform through New Deal intervention in people's lives. Stryker demanded photographs that "related people to the land and vice versa" because these photographs reinforced the RA's position that poverty could be controlled by "changing land practices." Though Stryker did not dictate to his photographers how they should compose the shots, he did send them lists of desirable themes, for example, "church", "court day", and "barns". Stryker sought photographs of migratory workers that would tell a story about how they lived day-to-day. He asked Dorothea Lange to emphasize cooking, sleeping, praying, and socializing. RA-FSA made 250,000 images of rural poverty. Fewer than half of those images survive and are housed in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress. The library has placed all 164,000 developed negatives online. From these, some 77,000 different finished photographic prints were originally made for the press, plus 644 color images, from 1600 negatives.
Documentary filmsThe RA also funded two documentary films by Pare Lorentz: The Plow That Broke the Plains, about the creation of the Dust Bowl, and The River, about the importance of the Mississippi River. The films were deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.
World War II activitiesDuring World War II, the FSA was assigned to work under the purview of the Wartime Civil Control Administration, a subagency of the War Relocation Authority. These agencies were responsible for relocating Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast to Internment camps. The FSA controlled the agricultural part of the evacuation. Starting in March 1942 they were responsible for transferring the farms owned and operated by Japanese Americans to alternate operators. They were given the dual mandate of ensuring fair compensation for Japanese Americans, and for maintaining correct use of the agricultural land. During this period, Lawrence Hewes Jr was the regional director and in charge of these activities.
Reformers ousted; Farmers Home AdministrationAfter the war started and millions of factory jobs in the cities were unfilled, no need for FSA remained. In late 1942, Roosevelt moved the housing programs to the National Housing Agency, and in 1943, Congress greatly reduced FSA's activities. The photographic unit was subsumed by the Office of War Information for one year, then disbanded. Finally in 1946, all the social reformers had left and FSA was replaced by a new agency, the Farmers Home Administration, which had the goal of helping finance farm purchases by tenants—and especially by war veterans—with no personal oversight by experts. It became part of Lyndon Johnson's war on poverty in the 1960s, with a greatly expanded budget to facilitate loans to low-income rural families and cooperatives, injecting $4.2 billion into rural America.
The Great DepressionThe Great Depression began in August 1929, when the United States economy first went into an economic recession. Although the country spent two months with declining GDP, the effects of a declining economy were not felt until the Wall Street Crash in October 1929, and a major worldwide economic downturn ensued.
Although its causes are still uncertain and controversial, the net effect was a sudden and general loss of confidence in the economic future and a reduction in living standards for most ordinary Americans. The market crash highlighted a decade of high unemployment, poverty, low profits for industrial firms, deflation, plunging farm incomes, and lost opportunities for economic growth.
FANTASTIC ELIZABETH TAYLOR SIGNED CONTRACT 17 YEARS OLD & SIGNED MOM MGM LOEWS: