Elizabeth Taylor, Marriages and Movies

Hollywood Royalty

An eternal Hollywood legend, Elizabeth Taylor was also one of the world's most famous women--remembered for her eight marriages, her acting skills and beauty, vast jewellery collection, multiple illnesses and flamboyant lifestyle. Born in London but raised in the old Hollywood studio system, this British Dame was also one of the few who can justly be called Hollywood "royalty."

Early Years

Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born on February 27, l932, in London, England. At the outset, she was blessed with stunning good looks and obvious intelligence.

Although her mother had a brief career stint as a stage actress in the US, her parents were actually art dealers from St. Louis, Missouri and relocated to London to open a gallery. Eventually, the Taylors moved back to the States and settled in Los Angeles just before war broke out in Europe in 1939.

Following a screen test for Universal Studios, nine-year-old Elizabeth was signed to a contract, and made her screen debut in 1942's There's One Born Every Minute . She was signed to MGM in 1942, and it was there that she had early success as a child actor

Liz in National Velvet
Liz in National Velvet

Early Career

After a couple of films co-starring with Lassie, Elizabeth really came into prominence with "National Velvet playing Velvet Brown, a young girl who trains a horse to win the Grand National. More parts followed and by 1949, she had graduated to her first adult role, as the romantic lead in Conspirator.

Elizabeth was a grown 18-year-old when she married hotel heir Nicky Hilton in May 1950, the same year she starred in the classic, Father of the Bride. Hilton was the first in a series of seven husbands, and the marriage lasted less than nine months. Elizabeth's fairy tale was shattered, beginning on their honeymoon, by Hilton's physical and emotional abuse. The marriage was over by January 1951. Also in that year, while on loan to Paramount, she received her first serious notice by critics for her performance in A Place In The Sun, directed by George Stevens.

Michael Wilding
Michael Wilding

3 Husbands and a Family

Liz wed for the second time in February 1952. Her new husband was Michael Wilding, a British actor twenty years her senior, with whom she had two sons. Michael Jr. was born in 1953, and Christopher in 1955. She continued to appear in a series of films for MGM during these years, but it wasn't until she reunited with Stevens in 1956's Giant (also starring James Dean, in his final screen appearance), that a new phase in her career commenced. Elizabeth's marriage to Michael Wilding was deteriorating by the mid 1950's, with the couple living more as brother and sister than husband and wife and on January 30, 1957 they got divorced. Three days later, she married movie producer Mike Todd in Acapulco. Todd was 24 years her senior, but Taylor acknowledges that of all her marriages, this was her happiest. The couple had a daughter, Elizabeth "Liza" Todd in August of that year.

Elizabeth Taylor received her first Oscar nod as Best Actress for 1957's Raintree County. Four days before the ceremony, Todd, flying in his private plane named "The Lucky Liz," was killed when the plane crashed over New Mexico. Friends rallied to Elizabeth's side, most notably Eddie Fisher, Todd's best friend and best man at Liz and Mike's wedding. At the time of Todd's death, Elizabeth was filming Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opposite newcomer Paul Newman. This film adaptation of Tennessee Williams' popular stage play earned six Oscar nominations, including Elizabeth's second in the Best Actress Oscar category.

With Paul Newman in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'
With Paul Newman in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof'

It wasn't long after mourning the loss of husband number three that Taylor wed Eddie Fisher, who had been a popular singer in the early 1950s. He divorced actress Debbie Reynolds to marry Liz, and the press vilified Elizabeth for having broken up their marriage when the couple wed in May 1959.

That same year, Taylor received a third Oscar nomination for 1959's Suddenly, Last Summer. While Oscar eluded her for a third time, she was honored with the Golden Globe for Best Actress.

For her next role, Taylor reluctantly starred as high-class call girl Gloria Wandrous in 1960s Butterfield 8, fulfilling contractual obligations to MGM. Again she was nominated for Best Actress by the Motion Picture Academy, but few, including Liz herself, thought she could win with this role. But win she did. Taylor always regarded this Oscar as a sympathy tribute however, winning it, as she did, just months after a near-fatal battle with pneumonia. She once said, "I won the Oscar for my tracheotomy."

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Richard Burton
Richard Burton

Cleopatra, Burton and into Stellar Orbit

In 1963, she became the highest paid movie star up until that time when she accepted US$1 million to play the title role in the lavish production of Cleopatra for 20th Century Fox. It was during the filming of that movie that she worked for the first time with future husband Richard Burton, who played Mark Antony. Movie magazines had a field day when Taylor and Burton began an affair during filming; both stars were married to other people at the time.

One of the most expensive films ever made and originally running at six hours before being cut to a little over four for release, Cleopatra was not a box office success, yet managed eight Oscar nominations including Best Picture, and winning four technical awards.

Smouldering Cleopatra

Taylor accompanied Burton to Toronto, Canada in 1964 where he was playing Hamlet . Burton's divorce from Sybil Williams was finalized on December 5th, 1963, and Taylor's from Fisher was finalized on March 6th, 1964. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton married at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montréal, Canada just days later.

With Burton in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'
With Burton in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'

In 1966 Taylor earned her second Best Actress Oscar for her role as a middle-aged, alcoholic housewife in the film adaptation of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Co-starring Richard Burton, George Segal and Sandy Dennis, this hard-hitting drama helped bury the Hollywood Production Code, earning 13 Academy Award nominations despite its use of such contraband words as "bastard" and "God-damned." The film, shot in black and white is a masterpiece, and is regarded by many film historians as the greatest performances that Taylor and Burton made. Both she and Burton were now global superstars and courted and feted wherever they went.

Liz as Martha Getting Steamed Up

Numbers 6, 7 and 8

After years of high profile high living the Burton's separation would be announced. The booze and flamboyant excess of their lifestyle had wreaked havoc on their marriage, and they were divorced on June 26th, 1974. The saying that some people can't live with each other, and can't live without each other couldn't be applied more appropriately to two individuals then it could to Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. They were remarried on a reserve in Botswana on October 10th, 1975. The reunion was not to last, and they were again divorced within ten months.

Elizabeth met politician John Warner on a blind date, and the two were married on December 4th, 1976. Elizabeth relocated her life to Warner's farm in Virginia. They divorced November 7, 1982.

On December 5th, 1983 Elizabeth Taylor, with advice from family and friends, admitted herself into the Betty Ford Center for alcohol and drug dependency. Taylor became the first celebrity to do so, and has opened the door for many others over the years to do the same. Richard Burton died unexpectedly on August 5th, 1984 in Céligny, Geneva, Switzerland, after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage. Taylor was naturally devastated but was banned from attending the funeral by Burton's wife, Sally Hay.

In 1988, Taylor reentered the Betty Ford Center, after she had again become dependant on alcohol. There she met husband number seven, construction worker Larry Fortensky and the two were married on October 6th, 1991 at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch with guests including Nancy Reagan.

Marriages Summary

Liz has been married eight times to seven husbands:

Conrad "Nicky" Hilton, Jr. hotel heir

May 6th, 1950 - February 1st, 1951

Divorced

Michael Wilding actor

February 21st, 1952 - January 30th, 1957

Divorced

Michael Todd producer

February 2nd, 1957 - March 22nd, 1958

His death

Eddie Fisher singer

May 12th, 1959 - March 6th, 1964

Divorced

Richard Burton actor

March 15th, 1964 - June 26th, 1974

Divorced

Richard Burton actor

October 10th, 1975 - August 1st, 1976

Divorced

John Warner politician

December 4th 1976 - November 5th, 1982

Divorced

Larry Fortensky construction worker

October 6th, 1991 - October 31st, 1996

Divorced

Husbands Gallery - Click the Thumbnails

Click thumbnail to view full-size
With Mike Todd, Christopher and MichaelFirst Burton WeddingWith John WarnerLiz and LarryWith LarryWith Conrad Hilton
With Mike Todd, Christopher and Michael
With Mike Todd, Christopher and Michael
First Burton Wedding
First Burton Wedding
With John Warner
With John Warner
Liz and Larry
Liz and Larry
With Larry
With Larry
With Conrad Hilton
With Conrad Hilton

Summary

Elizabeth Taylor grew from a doll-faced child starlet to become one of the silver screen's most striking beauties, not to mention a compelling actress and one of the world's most famous movie stars. She has been a natural magnet for publicity throughout her life and is one of the most photographed women in history. She even holds the record for the most appearances on the cover of Life Magazine (11). But lest her fame and notoriety overshadow her accomplishments, it is worth remembering that Taylor has received five Best Actresses nominations and two Oscar statuettes over the course of her amazing six-decade career.

A Place in the Sun, Liz with Montgomery Clift, 1951
A Place in the Sun, Liz with Montgomery Clift, 1951 | Source

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Comments 11 comments

Research Analyst profile image

Research Analyst 7 years ago

Elizabeth Taylor is a hollywood legend and timeless beauty. I love watching her movies. Nice collection of movie stars.


fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 7 years ago from Southern California

These are very interesting hubs. I can't tear myself away, once I get involved in one.


khoustello 7 years ago from lancashire

Was she Michael Jacksons son-there is a resemblance?


gunsock profile image

gunsock 7 years ago from South Coast of England Author

khoustello, there could be some truth in that. She seems to have Michael Jackson's nose - which is more than you could say for Michael Jackson.


camlo profile image

camlo 6 years ago from Cologne, Germany

Great Hub. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is one of my favourite movies -- I can watch it time and time again.

Yes, Elizabeth has certainly led an interesting life, and you capture it perfectly here.

Well done! I enjoyed this very much. I'm just going to see if you've done anything on Joan Collins -- she's my absolute favourite. You know that she was to play Cleopatra when Elizabeth was taken ill, but Liz got better, unluckily for Joan :-)

All the best, Camlo


cleon123 6 years ago

Nice hub


nicole 6 years ago

I think that this site.. might be wrong on her age.. I belive is is in her late 70s not 80... and dude I cant belive that she married that womanizer eddie fisher..


film critic profile image

film critic 6 years ago

Fortunately for me I was too young, or not even alive yet - to follow the alcohol addiction or other elements of a stars life that attracts the Paparazi. I know her mostly just by what she has left us in terms of performances. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is one of my all time favorites. Thanks for the Hub!


Andy Webb profile image

Andy Webb 6 years ago

There are 3 things which hit me from your superb hub. Firstly I’d forgotten how many great movies which Taylor made and even those early Lassie ones were pretty special. Secondly it makes me wonder why she felt the need to marry so many times. And finally considering the amount of health problems she has fallen prey to over the years it’s amazing that she is still with us. But once again fantastic hub.


Amjad Mahmood 5 years ago

The other name of beuty was Elizabeth Taylor.The world will remember her with great respect and affection.


Evelyn 5 years ago

Your hub should have been in the front page of hubpages instead. This is an excellent, well written hub. Thanks for sharing.

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