One of the first movie stars to make a visit to daytime television, the legendary Elizabeth Taylor has died. The actress died from heart failure on March 23. She was 79.
Taylor passed "peacefully today in Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles," the actress' publicist said in a statement. Taylor had been hospitalized more than a month ago with congestive heart failure, "a condition with which she had struggled for many years. Though she had recently suffered a number of complications, her condition had stabilized and it was hoped that she would be able to return home. Sadly, this was not to be."
Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor was born February 27, 1932, in London, the daughter of two wealthy American art dealers, Francis and Sara Taylor. Taylor's mother was a former actress who had given up on her career when she married. Shortly after the start of World War II, Taylor's parents returned to the United States and settled in Los Angeles.
Hollywood legend claims that a young Elizabeth Taylor had been up for a role in the 1939 film, Gone With the Wind -- but that her father nixed the idea. Nevertheless, Taylor would still go on to appear in feature films. She made her debut in 1942's There's One Born Every Minute. Two years later, the film National Velvet made her a star.
Taylor was a two-time Academy Award winner, picking up trophies in 1961 for Butterfield 8 and in 1967 for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. She also received Oscar nominations in 1958 for Raintree Country, 1959 for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and in 1960 for Suddenly, Last Summer.
In her personal world, Taylor rivaled any soap opera diva with her talked-about weddings. Taylor was married eight times -- all of them were legal, and none of them involved an evil twin.
Unafraid that her career would be tarnished, Taylor agreed to make a guest-starring appearance on ABC's General Hospital in 1981 after then-head writer Thom Racina promised the star that Luke and Laura would marry if she agreed to appear on the show. Taylor played the vengeful Helena Cassadine and appeared at Luke and Laura's iconic wedding.
"We were honored to work with Elizabeth Taylor on General Hospital," General Hospital said in a statement. "Her portrayal of Helena was a defining moment for the show and an extraordinary experience for everyone involved. She was a great talent, a gracious lady, and a rare presence. We are deeply saddened by her passing and send our deepest condolences to her family and friends."
"I used to never talk about my relationship with Elizabeth Taylor because I'm a gentleman and don't kiss and tell, but she did an interview a few years ago for Talk Magazine where she outed us as more than friends," Geary said on the syndicated Wendy Williams Show. "Yeah, so I don't mind telling that. I was sort of her boy toy for a couple years."
"Elizabeth was more than a great star, she was an amazing human being," Geary said in a statement. "Her world famous physical beauty paled in comparison to the beauty that radiated from her heart and soul. She had great humor, didn’t take herself too seriously, and had the most wonderful bawdy laugh. She was a fierce and loyal friend and tireless advocate. She dedicated herself to education, treatment and the search for a cure for HIV/AIDS long before it was fashionable to do so. Back in the dark days of ignorance and prejudice against people stricken with the disease, Elizabeth was at the forefront of the battle. Ever ready to give love, comfort, and dignity to those whose lives had been devastated and cut short, her generosity was nothing short of spectacular. It made her furious to hear anyone claim that people who had HIV/AIDS were somehow morally inferior or that the disease was some kind of punishment. I was fortunate enough to call her my friend and every moment I spent in her company was unforgettable. I loved her very much. The world is a little darker, a little colder, a little less beautiful without her.
Two years later, Taylor donned a charwoman outfit and surprised her friend Carol Burnett during a dress rehearsal of All My Children. The soap asked Taylor if she'd stick around to do a cameo in scene, and Taylor gladly obliged.
In 1992, Taylor also voiced the first word -- "Daddy" -- of Maggie Simpson, the youngest of the lemon-yellow FOX cartoon family.
Taylor's life has also been plagued by serious illness. During the filming of Butterfield 8, Taylor developed pneumonia and nearly died. She was treated for dependency issues in the late 1980s at the Betty Ford Clinic. She also battled a brain tumor.
Perhaps more than her acting, more than her famed marriages, Taylor was known as a tireless advocate for causes that were dear to her. In 1985, she organized a benefit dinner to raise money for her friend Rock Hudson, who was dying of AIDS. The project eventually led to creation of amFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. In 1991, she started the Elizabeth Taylor HIV/AIDS Foundation.
Elizabeth Taylor's family has asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.