Dead, Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor on March 23, 2011 at 79, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age.
Born at Heathwood on February 27, 1932, her parents’ home at 8 Wildwood Road in Hampstead Garden Suburb, in the northwestern suburb of London.
She was the daughter of Francis Lenn Taylor (1897–1968) and Sara Sothern (née Sara Viola Warmbrodt; 1895–1994), who were United States citizens residing in England.
Taylor had one older brother named Howard (born 1929).
Her parents were originally from Arkansas City, Kansas.
Francis Taylor was an art dealer, and Sara was a former actress whose stage name was “Sara Sothern”.
Sothern retired from the stage in 1926 when she married Francis in New York City.
Taylor’s two first names are in honour of her paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Mary (Rosemond) Taylor.
One of her maternal great-grandfathers was Swiss.
Colonel Victor Cazalet, one of their closest friends, had an important influence on the family.
He was a rich, well-connected bachelor, a Member of Parliament, and close friend of Winston Churchill.
Cazalet loved both art and theatre and was passionate when encouraging the Taylor family to think of England as their permanent home.
Additionally, as a Christian Scientist and lay preacher, his links with the family were spiritual.
He also became Elizabeth’s godfather.
In one instance, when she was suffering with a severe infection as a child, she was kept in her bed for weeks.
A dual citizen of the United Kingdom and the United States, she was born British through her birth on British soil and a US citizen through her parents.
In October 1965, as her then-husband was British, she signed an oath of renunciation at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, but with the phrase “abjure all allegiance and fidelity to the United States” struck out. U.S. State Department officials declared that her renunciation was invalid due to the alteration and Taylor signed another oath, this time without alteration, in October 1966.
She applied for restoration of U.S. citizenship in 1977, during then-husband John Warner’s Senate campaign, stating she planned to remain in America for the rest of her life.
In October 1948, Taylor sailed aboard the RMS Queen Mary to England to begin filming Conspirator.
Unlike some other child actors, Taylor made an easy transition to adult roles.
Before Conspirator ’s 1949 release, a TIME cover article called her “a jewel of great price, a true star sapphire”, and the leader among Hollywood’s next generation of stars such as Montgomery Clift, Kirk Douglas, and Ava Gardner.
The petite Taylor had the figure of a mature woman, with a 19″ waist.
Conspirator failed at the box office, but 16-year-old Taylor’s portrayal of a 21-year-old debutante who unknowingly marries a communist spy played by 38-year-old Robert Taylor, was praised by critics for her first adult lead in a film.
Taylor’s first picture under her new salary of $2,000 per week was The Big Hangover (1950), both a critical and box office failure, that paired her with screen idol Van Johnson.
In 1958 Elizabeth starred as Maggie Pollitt in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958).
The film received rave reviews from the critics and Elizabeth was nominated again for an Academy Award for best actress, but this time she lost to Susan Hayward in I Want to Live! (1958).
She was still a hot commodity in the film world, though.
In 1959 she appeared in another mega-hit and received yet another Oscar nomination for Suddenly, Last Summer (1959).
Once again, however, she lost out, this time to Simone Signoret for Room at the Top (1959).
Her Oscar drought ended in 1960 when she brought home the coveted statue for her performance in BUtterfield 8 (1960) as Gloria Wandrous, a call girl who is involved with a married man.
Some critics blasted the movie but they couldn’t ignore her performance.
There were no more films for Elizabeth for three years.
She left MGM after her contract ran out, but would do projects for the studio later down the road.
In 1963 she starred in Cleopatra (1963), which was one of the most expensive productions up to that time–as was her salary, a whopping $1,000,000.
The film took years to complete, due in part to a serious illness during which she nearly died.