A look at the enduring style, life and loves of the actress who was arguably the First Lady of Cinema in the second half of the 20th century.
Style file: Elizabeth Taylor
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, famous for her glamour, beauty and her dazzling violet eyes, was a celebrated film star, fashion icon and humanitarian. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen goddesses of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
National Velvet (1944) was Taylor’s first film success, followed later by Father of the Bride (1950), A Place in the Sun (1951), Giant (1956), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly, Last Summer (1959). She won an Academy Award for Best Actress for Butterfield 8 (1960), played the title role in Cleopatra (1963), and married her co-star Richard Burton. They appeared in 11 films together, including Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), for which Taylor won a second Academy Award.
Taylor was married eight times to seven husbands. When asked why she wed so often, she replied: “I was taught by my parents that if you fall in love, you get married. I guess I’m very old-fashioned.” Burton, whom Taylor married twice, famously described the moment he first saw her in 1952: “She was unquestionably gorgeous. I can think of no other word to describe a combination of plentitude, frugality, abundance, tightness. She was lavish...”
From the mid-1980s, Taylor championed HIV and Aids programmes; she co-founded the American Foundation for Aids Research in 1985, and the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation in 1993. She received the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Legion of Honour, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and a Life Achievement Award from the American Film Institute, which named her seventh on its list of the “Greatest American Screen Legends”. Taylor died of congestive heart failure at the age of 79 in March of this year.
The tour and the auction
Elizabeth Taylor’s diamonds, jewels, necklaces and one-of-a-kind creations, as well as a treasure trove of mementos and beloved gifts, are expected to fetch upwards of US$30 million when Christie’s auctions the collection on December 13-14 after a global tour. Featuring what is widely celebrated as one of the greatest private collections ever assembled, the tour will be in Dubai on October 23, at Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel, followed by exhibitions in Geneva, Paris and Hong Kong. In December, the tour will culminate in a special 10-day show before the auction at Christie’s New York.
Elizabeth Taylor's world
I CAN’T STAND... being called Liz. My name is Elizabeth. I LOVE JEWELLERY BECAUSE... my mother says I didn’t open my eyes for eight days after I was born. but when I did, the first thing I saw was an engagement ring. I was hooked. I DON’T PRETEND TO BE... an ordinary housewife. SOME OF MY BEST LEADING MEN... have been dogs and horses. YOU FIND OUT WHO YOUR REAL FRIENDS ARE WHEN... you’re involved in a scandal. I BELIEVE IN... mind over matter and doing anything you set your mind on. I HAVE... the emotions of a child in the body of a woman. ONE PROBLEM... with people who have no vices is that they’re pretty sure to have some annoying virtues. I’VE COME THROUGH... things that would have felled an ox. I AM... living proof of survival.