The actress with the violet eyes, Dame Elizabeth Taylor has died at the age of 79 of congestive heart failure. The British-born actress, fluidly making the transition from child star (Lassie Come Home, National Velvet) to movie star was known dozens of memorable roles over her lifetime. She is seventh on the American Film Institute’s list of female acting legends.
Playing such iconic roles as Cleopatra and and Kate (in Taming of the Shrew), both opposite husband, Richard Burton (with whom she appeared in seven films, and whom she eventually divorced), she won Best Actress Academy awards for her roles in Butterfield 8 (1960) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Taylor (1966).
Taylor became an important voice in AIDS awareness, long before it became “the thing” to do, following the death of her close friend Rock Hudson. Helping to found the American Foundation for AIDS Research, she went on to establish her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Although she will be remembered for her movies, her many marriages and her ongoing battle with addiction, she will be likely remembered for her philanthropy and tireless work to combat the deadly disease. Her son, Michael Wilding, in a statement noted that “we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.”